Governor Gina M. Raimondo, along with Representative Arthur Handy, Senator William J. Conley, Jr., and East Providence Mayor Thomas Rose, today marked the growth of the state's clean energy sector, detailed in the 2016 Rhode Island Clean Energy Jobs Report released by the Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources and the Executive Office of Commerce.
"Rhode Island continues to expand its clean energy economy and create jobs in this growing sector," Raimondo said. "We've made extraordinary strides in promoting renewable energy - from expanding our solar industry to construction of the nation's first offshore wind farm. Rhode Island is leading the way, and I look forward to continuing to work with our partners to keep the momentum going."
The clean energy industry in Rhode Island continues to serve as a catalyst for job creation and innovation: the report finds the industry now supports nearly 14,000 jobs - a 40 percent increase over 2015 levels and far exceeding last year's projected growth rate of 17 percent.
"We saw some great results in last year's Clean Energy Jobs Report, and this year's continues to demonstrate that Rhode Island is moving in the right direction in terms of encouraging the generation and use of renewable energy, and reaping the related benefits to our economy," Handy, chairman of the House Environment and Natural Resources Committee, said. "Through a number of legislative and administrative initiatives over the past several years, we have positioned Rhode Island to see many more exciting developments like the solar array we see here today, and each one will represent a move toward shrinking our carbon footprint and toward a stronger green economy that provides good jobs for Rhode Islanders."
"It wasn't too long ago that legislation to benefit the environment was viewed as inconsistent with legislation to improve our economy," Conley said. "We've come a long way. Our efforts in recent years, and this year through the Senate's Grow Green Jobs RI action plan, support both our environment and the economy. Renewable energy holds enormous potential for economic growth and job creation in Rhode Island. I look forward to continued collaboration with all stakeholders to promote this important industry, which is essential to a vibrant and sustainable future."
Other highlights of the report include:
• The number of renewable energy jobs in Rhode Island increased by 84 percent in the last year, with the solar workforce accounting for nearly three-quarters of renewable generation employment;
• Wind energy is increasingly becoming a source of diverse employment across the state, now supporting nearly 500 jobs;
• Energy efficiency employment represents 8 in 10 clean energy workers, adding 2,900 jobs across the state;
• Three-quarters of Rhode Island's clean energy firms serve in-state customers, up from 68 percent last year;
• Renewable and energy efficient heating and cooling firms grew their workforce by 900 jobs.
East Providence Mayor Thomas Rose noted, "East Providence is home to the largest solar field in Rhode Island, so it's fitting that we talk about the future of clean and renewable energy here at the Forbes Street facility. Looking back at what we've been able to accomplish, I'm hopeful that we can work together to implement policy that will benefit the environment and the state's economy for generations to come."
Clean energy is quickly emerging as the main source of revenue for renewable energy firms in Rhode Island. In 2015, only a quarter of firms reported all of their revenue was derived from clean energy work; this year, 4 out of 10 firms attribute revenue to clean energy activities. Likely factors in this growth include maturation of the solar industry, start up activity in smart grid technologies, and the progress made on the construction of the Block Island Wind Farm.
"Governor Raimondo and the General Assembly's collective commitment to a sustainable energy future continues to produce statewide economic growth and employment opportunities," Rhode Island Energy Commissioner Marion Gold said. "It's a worthwhile investment, which will not only produce jobs but also shrink our carbon footprint and lead private industry into new, exciting territory. There are a lot of exciting clean energy initiatives happening throughout Rhode Island, and we must continue to engage public and private stakeholders to advance our environmental goals while reducing energy costs for local businesses and residents."
"Investing in clean energy benefits both our environment and our economy," Rhode Island Secretary of Commerce Stefan Pryor said. "It is important for the state to maintain our momentum and continue the successful programs and incentives we've deployed this year like the Innovation Voucher program, which is helping clean energy businesses in Rhode Island conduct new R&D. We're excited for the future of this industry and look forward to seeing the Rhode Island business community benefit from these initiatives."
As part of her efforts to accelerate growth of clean energy, Raimondo included several energy measures in her FY 2017 state budget proposal, including the extension of the Renewable Energy Fund to help property owners affordably access renewable energy installations, expanding virtual net metering to residential and commercial customers, and allowing third-party financing under the net-metering program.
For the full 2016 Rhode Island Clean Energy Jobs Report, visit the link below.