Bill Would Help Grow Green Jobs in R.I.

By TIM FAULKNER/ecoRI News staff

PROVIDENCE — Several bills were recently introduced in the General Assembly as part of a green-jobs initiative put forth by Senate President M. Teresa Paiva Weed. The Grow Green Jobs RI plan promotes renewable energy, energy efficiency, environmentally sound infrastructure, farming, seafood, and recycling and composting. It also provides funds and incentives for education and job training in these areas.

During a recent Senate press hearing, Paiva Weed said the “green” technology sector grew 6.6 percent, creating 613 jobs between 2014 and 2015, while the economy as a whole grew less than 1 percent. Both those years, she noted, also set records for global temperatures, and climate change brings rising sea levels and other threats. But, she said, these disruption also offer an opportunity for new jobs.

“What we are trying to do is match environmental challenges that we as a state and a country and a world face with employment opportunities that we know are doable,” Paiva Weed said.

Here is a look at some of the other environmental/public health bills recently introduced:
Renewable power
The amount of renewable energy that flows through your electric socket increases in House and Senate bills. The Renewable Energy Standard (RES) began in 2007 with a 3 percent supply of electricity from sources such as wind, solar, hydro and biomass (wood). The power generators are in-state and from across the Northeast.

With annual increases, and one year of no increase, the RES is expected to peak at 14.5 percent of renewable power by 2019, when the program expires. The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Deborah Ruggiero, D-Jamestown, and Sen. Susan Sosnowski, D-South Kingstown, extends the RES until 2035, when it should account for 38 percent of renewable power.

Connecticut has an RES goal of 20 percent by 2020. Massachusetts has a goal of 15 percent by 2020, followed by annual growth of 1 percent.

A second bill would extend the state Renewable Energy Growth solar and wind incentive program for 10 years.

Solar energy
A bill would create a task force to come up with recommendations for streamlining municipal permitting for small residential and commercial solar projects.

Small residential and commercial solar systems would be exempt from local taxes for 20 years under another bill. This bill would restore the tax credit for solar installations.

Compost pile
This Senate bill would amend the state’s new compost law to phase in compliance by universities, colleges, trade schools and research institutions. The bill is sponsored by Sen. Galye Goldin, D-Providence.

A bill sponsored by Sen. Leonidas Raptakis, D-Coventry, would permit the creation of a compost facility in the Big River Reservoir area on Phillips Road in Coventry.

Plant-based industries
Farming and nursery products, agriculture-support industries, cemeteries, golf, and landscaping services and suppliers all make up the state’s plant-based industry. A Senate bill would ask several state agencies to cut red tape and regulations, to create more jobs and increase revenue.

Waste management
This Senate bill would require the Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation, manager of the Central Landfill in Johnston, to submit an economic impact and job strategies report to the governor by the end of 2017. A second bill would officially set a waste-reduction goal of 50 percent by 2025.

Street lights
This bill would allow municipalities to upgrade streetlights it doesn’t own and to pay electricity bills for streetlights based on consumption.

Trout fishing
This bill would lift seasonal restrictions to allow trout fishing year-round.

Marijuana crop
This bill, sponsored by Sen. John Pagliarini Jr., R-Tiverton, would exclude marijuana production and sales from the state definition of agriculture.

URI programs
This bill would award additional state funds to the University of Rhode Island for agriculture and sea grant programs.