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Bill Would Create Jobs, Save Energy

 

June 12, 2014


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New legislation could help get Rhode Island IBEW members back to work.

When it comes to renewable energy, Rhode Island lags far behind its neighboring New England states.

 

“Massachusetts and Connecticut have been booming when it comes to solar for a few years now,” said Providence, R.I., Local 99 Business Manager Michael Daley. “Now it’s time for us to catch up.”

A bill sitting in the Rhode Island legislature would do just that, creating 250 new jobs and increasing economic output by upward of a half-a-billion dollars – all while cutting down on energy costs – by incentivizing renewable power.

Under the Distributed Generation Growth Program Bill, small-energy generators – often powered by solar panels or wind turbines – can plug into the grid, allowing them to sell power to the state’s main utility, National Grid.

An earlier version of the program was passed by the General Assembly in 2011, and the results have been significant, write Daley, New England Clean Energy Council President Peter Rothstein and Rhode Island Builders Association Executive Director in an editorial in the Providence Journal. Approximately 175 jobs were created in the first 18 months of the program alone.

“Renewable energy companies from within and outside of Rhode Island’s borders lined up in droves to vie for the wind, solar, anaerobic digestion and small-scale hydro projects awarded through the 2011 program,” they write.

Daley says some of that renewable work has translated into jobs for his members, including solar installation projects on landfills and commercial rooftops.

He says the current bill could help kick-start the industry, helping to bring solar companies to the state.

“We’re working closely with state officials to bring the work here,” he said.

And with unemployment in the Ocean State running above 9 percent, anything that can create private jobs is a priority for lawmakers.

“[M]ore renewable energy projects mean more green jobs we can create to support those struggling with unemployment,” said state Sen. Susan Sosnowski.

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