"We have made so much progress toward our clean energy and environmental goals, and this legislation will help us build on that momentum," Raimondo said. "By streamlining permitting processes, simplifying land value taxation policy of renewables on farm lands and providing long-term stability to our renewable energy programs, we are taking important steps toward fostering a stronger clean energy economy."
In March, Governor Raimondo announced a goal to increase Rhode Island's clean energy output tenfold by 2020, supporting 20,000 clean energy jobs in the process. The state is rapidly moving toward this goal, as the 2017 Clean Energy Industry Report counts more than 15,300 clean energy workers across the Ocean State. Clean energy employment has grown by 66 percent since 2014, and 11 percent just over the last year.
The signing ceremony follows the passage of the following bills:
Provides a 10-year extension of the renewable energy growth program
Bills: H5274A, S112A
Sponsors: Representative Ruggiero, Senator Conley
Establishes a streamlined statewide solar permitting application process
Bills: H5575, S562
Sponsors: Representative Carson, Senator Lynch Prata
Streamlines process of connecting renewable energy installations to the grid
Bills: H5483B, S637A
Sponsors: Representative Marshall, Senator DiPalma
Allows farmers to install a renewable energy system on no more than 20 percent of their total farm land acreage
Bills: H6095Aaa, S570A
Sponsors: Representative Handy, Senator Sosnowski
Expands virtual net metering for renewable project development
Sponsor: Representative Regunberg
"In 2014 when I stood on the House floor and asked my colleagues to support the Renewable Energy Growth Program and energy efficiency, I never imagined it would be this successful with over 15,000 new jobs in the state," says Rep. Deborah L. Ruggiero, who serves as the chairwoman for the House Finance Subcommittee on Environment and Transportation."Extending the REG program will add to the 38 commercial projects and the 1,500 homeowners who have installed solar panels to save on their electricity bills. It will also cause National Grid to lock into predictable electricity prices for decades, keeping electricity costs down."
"It wasn't too long ago that legislation to benefit the environment was viewed as inconsistent with legislation to improve our economy," said Senator Sosnowski, who serves as chairwoman for the Senate Committee on Environment & Agriculture. "We've come a long way. The bills we are celebrating today are good for both the environment and the economy. They build on work we have undertaken over the past several years to support the renewable energy industry and the creation of green jobs while containing energy costs for businesses and homeowners."
The ceremonial bill signing took place in front of a ground-mounted solar array at the Quonset Business Park. The Quonset Development Corporation (QDC), which runs the Park, is currently working on a new 400,000-square-foot rooftop solar array and a separate land-based array on Davisville Road that will generate enough power to meet the full energy needs for the agency. Once complete, the green energy project will produce approximately 2 million kilowatt hours (kWhrs) of energy. Home to more than 200 companies and 11,000 jobs, Quonset is a leading driver of economic development and job growth for Rhode Island