This week Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) signed into law four clean energy bills that will expand the use of solar power and other renewables in the nation’s tiniest state. The bills expand the state’s renewable energy standard, allow zero-down style third-party financing options for rooftop solar and virtual net metering arrangements like community solar gardens.
"This legislation reflects forward-thinking energy policies that will help us meet our state energy goals," Raimondo said at a signing. The signing was also attended by Senate President M. Teresa Paiva Weed, Rep. Deborah Ruggiero and state Energy Commissioner Carol Grant. "With its passage, we can continue to create jobs, connect Rhode Islanders with more cost-effective energy options, and reduce our carbon footprint."
Thanks to the legislation companies like SolarCity plan to expand operations in the state. “We are grateful that Governor Raimondo and the Rhode Island legislature support clean energy and the solar business economy by signing legislation that expands net metering and makes solar more accessible for Rhode Islanders," said SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive. "We look forward to increasing our solar product offerings in the Ocean State."
The bills Raimondo signed also incorporated clean energy into the Governor's Workforce Board and creates a platform for a universal, statewide solar permit process. Such work will help expand solar and other jobs in the state and the governor’s office observed that operation centers for SolarCity typically have approximately 100 employees.
"These bills represent our continued commitment not only to a more sustainable future, one in which much more of our energy is generated from clean, renewable sources right here in Rhode Island, but also greater investments in creating better career opportunities for Rhode Islanders in the rapidly expanding green industries," Paiva Weed said. "Green jobs in Rhode Island grew by 40 percent from 2014 to 2015 alone. Doing everything we can to continue and expand that growth and position our state as a leader in those industries will pay off in the form of well-paying jobs, successful businesses and greater prosperity for Rhode Island."
"In just six years, we've gone from being a laggard to a leader in renewable energy, and these bills further advance our state's opportunities for growth in generating renewable energy,” Ruggiero, who previously led the state’s Small Business Renewable Energy Task Force, said. “With this legislation, we've allowed businesses and homeowners to build off-site renewable energy installations, just as municipalities have been able to do for years, expanded the distributed generation pilot program into the Renewable Energy Growth Fund and allowed third-party financing. All of these changes put renewable energy generation within reach for many more Rhode Islanders, strengthening our economy while diversifying our state's energy sources and reducing our carbon footprint."Tweet