EERE Success Story—Rhode Island’s Clean Energy Industry Grows by 72% Since 2014

February 19, 2019

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Workers from Providence-based Newport Renewables recently installed solar arrays on the roofs of the Rhode Island Departments of Administration, Health, and Transportation.

The Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources, funded in part by the U.S. Department of Energy’s State Energy Program, is Rhode Island’s leading state agency on energy policy and programs. The mission of the Office of Energy Resources is to lead Rhode Island to a secure, cost-effective, and sustainable energy future. The Office of Energy Resources works closely with private and public stakeholders to increase the reliability and security of the energy supply, reduce energy costs, and mitigate price volatility.

In 2017, Rhode Island Governor Gina M. Raimondo announced a goal of 20,000 total clean energy jobs by 2020, and the state is well on its way toward achieving that milestone. In August 2018, the Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources and the state’s Executive Office of Commerce released the 2018 Clean Energy Jobs Report detailing how the clean energy industry has continued to grow in the state. The report counts more than 15,800 clean energy workers throughout the Ocean State. Clean energy employment has grown by a remarkable 72% since 2014, resulting in 6,650 new jobs during that period. Clean energy workers now account for 3.3% of the total labor force in Rhode Island, with most of the employment – over 9,000 jobs –  found across energy efficiency firms.

According to State Energy Commissioner Carol Grant, "More Rhode Island residents, business owners, and organizations are choosing clean energy. These projects lead not only to construction jobs, but also to numerous supporting roles including engineering, research, and professional services. Energy efficiency is our largest sector and continues to grow as more Rhode Islanders make the switch to energy-saving products.” In December 2015, Governor Raimondo issued an Executive Order directing state agencies to lead by example in energy efficiency and clean energy. As part of the Order, state agencies are to reduce energy consumption by at least 10% below fiscal year 2014 levels by the end of fiscal year 2019. This effort not only allows the state to become an energy leader, it also creates jobs.

Upcoming projects may foster even more clean energy job growth. Governor Raimondo recently announced the state’s selection of a 400 MW offshore wind farm. This project alone is projected to create more than eight hundred new construction jobs and fifty permanent jobs. According to Governor Raimondo, the state’s work to "aggressively pursue alternative energy and position ourselves as a leader in this industry will create thousands more jobs in the years to come."

The Energy Department's State Energy Program  provides funding and technical assistance to states, territories, and the District of Columbia to enhance energy security, advance state-led energy initiatives, and maximize the benefits of decreasing energy waste. The State Energy Program emphasizes the state’s role as the decision-maker and administrator for program activities tailored to their unique resources, delivery capacity, and energy goals.