Senate’s Grow Green Jobs RI bills enacted
STATE HOUSE – Rhode Island can expect to continue its swift expansion of green jobs in the coming years, due to the enactment of numerous legislative initiatives proposed this year as part of the Senate’s Grow Green Jobs RI Legislative Action Plan.
“Jobs are being created in the clean energy sector of our economy at six times the overall rate of job growth. There is tremendous potential to build on this strength and maximize opportunities for job creation in emerging green industries,” said President of the Senate M. Teresa Paiva Weed. “The bills generated through this action plan will help remove bureaucratic hurdles for green industries, incentivize growth in those industries, and better equip Rhode Islanders with the skills they need to succeed in the green sectors of our economy.”
Among the bills in the action plan that were enacted in the 2016 legislative session were four that were signed into law by Gov. Gina M. Raimondo today:
· 2016-S 2450B — Sponsored by Sen. William J. Conley Jr. (D-Dist. 18, East Providence, Pawtucket), this bill expands several renewable energy programs.
It provides a five-year extension of the Renewable Energy Growth Fund, which provides grants and loans to businesses, municipalities and hundreds of homeowners to help develop renewable energy projects and is funded through a nominal surcharge on most customers’ electricity bill.
This bill creates a pathway for up to 30 MW statewide of community remote net metering and shared solar, which allows three or more customers to partner up on a renewable energy generation installation and share the credit for energy it generates. It also enables third-party financing of renewable installations, allowing homeowners and businesses another way to install and finance renewable energy project by entering into a loan or lease arrangement with a company. Two solar companies, SolarCity and Level Solar, have expressed interest in bringing 80 to 100 jobs to Rhode Island upon passage of this legislation.
It also makes more projects eligible for long-term, fixed rate pricing, exempts residential renewable energy systems and those used in manufacturing from taxation and establishes a statewide tax rate for commercial renewable energy systems by Nov. 30, 2016. This tax would allow communities to receive some benefit from the commercial renewable energy projects they host.
· 2016-S 2185A — This bill sponsored by Senate Environment and Agriculture Committee Chairwoman V. Susan Sosnowski (D-Dist. 37, South Kingstown, New Shoreham) extends the Renewable Energy Standard that provides for annual increases in the percentage of electricity from renewable sources that National Grid must supply to its Rhode Island customers. The state is on target for 14.5 percent of its energy to be from renewable sources by 2019 and this bill will extends the requirement to 2035, at a rate that increases by 1.5 percent annually. Under this bill, Rhode Islanders will receive 40 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2035.
· 2016-S 2328 — Sponsored by Sen. Roger A. Picard (D-Dist. 20, Woonsocket, Cumberland), this legislation requires the Governor’s Workforce Board to include in the state career pathways system the creation of pathways and workforce training programs in the clean-energy sector. It is meant to support well-paying clean energy jobs at all income levels.
· 2016-S 2174 — This bill sponsored by Sen. Erin Lynch Prata (D-Dist. 31, Warwick, Cranston) asks the Office of Energy Resources to create a task force to report to the Senate by Jan. 31, 2017, with recommendations regarding the establishment of a streamlined statewide permitting process for the installation of solar systems that removes unnecessary regulatory barriers, resulting in a predictable and less-costly process for solar developers.
The Senate also approved several Senate resolutions aimed at growing the state’s green industries:
· 2016-S 2326 — Sponsored by Sen. Paul W. Fogarty (D-Dist. 23, Glocester, Burrillville, North Smithfield), this bill requires the Department of Labor and Training to include green industries in the next solicitation for Real Jobs RI and the implementation of grants.
· 2016-S 2169A — This bill sponsored by Sen. Hanna M. Gallo (D-Dist. 27, Cranston, West Warwick) asks the Board of Education to submit plans to integrate STEM-to-STEAM programming into curricula, including certificate programs and pathways to higher education degree programs to prepare students in green technologies. It also requires that the Community College of Rhode Island, Rhode Island College and the University of Rhode Island identify key partners in the green sector with whom they may develop their corresponding degree programs.
· 2016-S 2176 — Sponsored by Sen. Ryan W. Pearson (D-Dist. 19, Cumberland, Lincoln), this bill requests that the Commerce Corporation, the Department of Environmental Management and the Department of Labor and Training work together to promote job development incentives that encourage agricultural and seafood companies to expand or locate to Rhode Island. It is meant to provide specific job development incentives to companies that process and add value to Rhode Island’s agricultural and seafood products. The increased demand for local farm grown products will create additional production and logistics jobs.
· 2016-S 3007 — Sponsored by Senator Sosnowski, this bill continues the Senate’s commitment to making government more efficient and asks DEM and the Coastal Resources Management Council to collaborate to streamline the aquaculture permitting process and report to the Senate with recommendations for statutory and regulatory changes by Jan. 1, 2017; and to conduct a comprehensive mapping process to identify areas that are appropriate and suitable for aquaculture.
· 2016-S 2724 — Also sponsored by Senator Sosnowski, this bill asks the Commerce Corporation to work with DEM to integrate seafood marketing and the state’s seafood logo developed by the Rhode Island Seafood Marketing Collaborative with the state’s tourism and rebranding campaign as a means of supporting the collaborative, local fishermen and small businesses and increasing consumption of locally fished species.
Additionally, the 2017 state budget bill included $100,000 to continue funding the grants program established through the Local Agriculture and Seafood Act, which was sponsored by Senator Sosnowski in 2012. Those grants increase the economic competitiveness of Rhode Island-grown agricultural products and local seafood.
The General Assembly has also approved these bills, which are awaiting enactment into law, which were also part of Green Jobs RI:
· 2016-S 3024 — Sponsored by Sen. Frank Lombardo III (D-Dist. 25, Johnston, this bill establishes a policy goal that Rhode Island divert from the landfill 50 percent of the solid waste generated in this state through source reduction, reuse, recycling or composting by 2025.
· 2016-S 2182 — This bill sponsored by Sen. Walter S. Felag Jr. (D-Dist. 10, Warren, Bristol, Tiverton) tasks the Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation with submitting an economic impact study of Rhode Island’s solid waste industries (recycling, reuse, trash hauling, recycling food waste and composting) to identify the most effective ways to develop jobs related to increased recycling in Rhode Island. It directs Resource Recovery to complete two reports by Jan. 1, 2018: one on an economic impact study of the state’s recycling industries including jobs created, and another on the potential economic benefits of diverting 50 percent of the state’s solid waste from the landfill and strategies to achieve that goal.
· 2016-S 2178A — Sponsored by Sen. Gayle L. Goldin (D-Dist. 3, Providence), this bill expands the current food waste recycling law by requiring colleges, universities and research institutions that generate more than 52 tons of organic material per year to recycle the material if there is a recycling facility with capacity within 15 miles and the fee charged by the recycling facility is less than the commercial tip fee charged by Resource Recovery.
For more information, contact:
Greg Pare, Press Secretary for the Senate
State House Room 314
Providence, RI 02903