PROVIDENCE, R.I. - Governor Gina M. Raimondo today announced the findings of a new report highlighting the growing strength of the clean energy economy in Rhode Island. The 2015 Rhode Island Clean Energy Jobs Report states that this sector currently supports nearly 10,000 jobs and suggests that the state is projected to add approximately 1,600 new clean energy jobs over the next year. "Our mission is getting people back to work and preparing them for the jobs of the 21st century," Raimondo said. "This growth in the clean energy economy is encouraging and represents a sector on the move. By establishing the Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank, and investing in energy efficiency, we are creating an atmosphere that attracts businesses to our state. I look forward to continuing to work with our partners to continue this progress for years to come."
Highlights of the report include:
• The clean energy sector added 613 jobs in the last year;
• Approximately 40 percent of this sector began providing clean energy services in just the last five years; and
• Nearly 90 percent of the growth occurred with firms that employ fewer than 25 employees.
President Barack Obama recently unveiled the Clean Power Plan, which requires states to reduce carbon pollution from existing power plants - the nation's single largest source of the harmful emissions that are contributing to climate change. The anticipated growth of the clean energy sector can be an important factor for achieving the goals outlined in the plan and the continued recovery of the state's economy.
"Climate change impacts the environment, public health, and the economic strength of our communities," Raimondo said. "The Clean Power Plan directly addresses climate change and is expected to provide additional business opportunities for energy companies in Rhode Island."
Rhode Island is also leading the way by constructing the nation's first offshore wind farm. The first steel in the water achievement for the Block Island Wind Farm was celebrated in July as the 440-ton steel foundation was lowered into place in about 100 feet of water. The Block Island Wind Farm furthers the state's objective of being a national leader in supporting the deployment of clean and renewable energy resources. Deepwater Wind expects it to be operational by late 2016 and power approximately 17,000 homes.
"Governor Raimondo and the General Assembly are committed to leading Rhode Island towards a secure, cost-effective, and sustainable energy future," said Rhode Island Energy Commissioner Marion Gold. "I am pleased to see the addition of over 600 jobs in the clean energy sector last year and encouraged by projections that we are expected to double that figure in the coming year. Investments in this growing part of our economy have created jobs and expanded opportunities. As we look ahead, we must continue to engage public and private stakeholders and invest in this important segment of our state's economy to drive economic growth opportunities, reduce energy costs, and advance our environmental goals."
The Governor's Fiscal Year 2016 Budget contains many initiatives designed to make it easier for clean energy companies to do business in Rhode Island including:
• Establishing the Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank (RIIB)
• (FY 2016 Budget Article 14): o Expanding Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) to commercial and residential properties for energy efficiency, renewable energy, and electric vehicle charging station finance opportunities; o Allowing the Renewable Energy Fund and PACE programs to be leveraged together; o Establishing the Efficient Building Fund for energy efficiency services to municipal buildings; o Enabling RIIB access to the Federal Qualified Energy Conservation Bonds program; and o Extending the Least-Cost Procurement law for the gas and electric energy efficiency programs until the end of 2023.
"We are poised to grow the economy and create more jobs for Rhode Islanders," said Rhode Island Secretary of Commerce Stefan Pryor. "Included in the budget are incentives to attract new businesses to Rhode Island and to assist the businesses that are already here in their growth. In multiple cases, such businesses are especially incentivized to adopt sustainable and energy-efficiency practices."
Employment in the clean energy space, as outlined in the report, is representative of Rhode Island's diverse population, with higher than average employment of ethnic and racial minorities, veterans, and older workers. The study found that of clean energy hires in the past year, 36.6 percent were ethnic or racial minorities, 21.8 percent were over the age of 55, and 14.6 percent were veterans.
For the complete report, please visit www.energy.ri.gov/cleanjobs.
About Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources: The Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources (OER) is the lead state agency on energy policy and programs. OER's mission is to lead Rhode Island to a secure, cost-effective, and sustainable energy future. OER works closely with private and public stakeholders to increase the reliability and security of our energy supply, reduce energy costs and mitigate price volatility, and improve environmental quality. www.energy.ri.gov
About the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation: The Commerce Corporation's mission is to work with public, private and non-profit partners to create the conditions for businesses to thrive and improve the quality of life for our citizens.