The Pew Charitable Trusts “Clean Energy Economy Report“ found that in 2007 Rhode Island reported 237 cleantech businesses that provided a total of 2,328 green jobs. Over the decade 1998-2007 employment in the Rhode Island cleantech sector grew by a tiny 0.7% compared with a similar low growth of 0.6% growth in overall employment for the state over the same period. Over the two year period (2006-2008) Rhode Island saw around $23 million of venture capital invested in its cleantech sector.
A study commissioned by Rhode Island in 2006 and completed in winter of 2007 had determined that 15% or more of Rhode Island’s electricity requirement could be supplied by offshore wind farms and, further, that 10 specific areas were suitable for consideration as wind farm locations.
Two offshore wind farms are under development off the coastal waters, the $205 million Deepwater Block Island project, to have a capacity of 28.8 MW; and the $5 billion Deepwater Wind Center, to have a capacity of 1 GW. The project developer is also building an undersea transmission network which will connect the projects to load centers. The network will stretch from Massachusetts to New York and cost an additional $500 million to $1 billion.
Rhode Island has also announced plans for a $45 million wave energy pilot project near Block Island to have a capacity of 1.5 MW. The initial phase of the project would be followed by a further 15 to 20 MW facility off the mainland.
In 2009 there were 11 renewable energy companies in Rhode Island and there were 281 direct and indirect energy jobs in the state.
Having previously updated the 2010 Rhode Island State Energy Conservation Code to incorporate the 2009 IECC effective July 1, the Rhode Island State Building Commission has adopted the International Green Construction Code, making it the first state in the nation to do so. Rhode Island follows the City of Richland, Washington, which became the first local government to adopt the IGCC in August. The IGCC applies to new and existing, traditional and high-performance commercial buildings and includes ASHRAE Standard 189.1 as a jurisdictional compliance option.
The Rhode Island Green Buildings Act identifies the IGCC as an “equivalent high performance green building standard” to which all qualifying public projects must be designed and constructed. The Act applies to any public project that is owned, leased, or controlled by the State of Rhode Island, including new construction projects larger than 5,000 gross square feet, or renovations involving more than 10,000 gross square feet of occupied or conditioned space. The Rules and Regulations to implement the Act took effect this month.