The R.I. Economic Development Corporation (EDC) today named new managers for the state’s Renewable Energy Fund (REF) and announced a new drive to stimulate local job growth in the “green” energy and technology sectors.
“Rhode Island stands to gain significant benefits from increasing activity in the green energy and green technology sectors,” Saul Kaplan, the EDC’s executive director, said in a statement. “We have an opportunity to more fully leverage our coastal location and green-tech talent to grow high-wage jobs,” through the Renewable Energy Fund and other initiatives.
Julian Dash will become the REF’s director, the agency said. He will manage the energy fund with the assistance of Jennifer Paolino, the renewable energy coordinator, who joined the EDC last month. Both positions are paid by the fund itself.
Also today, the EDC announced new guidelines for the fund, which it began managing this summer. The Renewable Energy Fund – which receives $200,000 per month from National Grid, based on a surcharge on the utility’s customers in Rhode Island – is dedicated to increasing the share of renewable energy in the state’s electricity supply.
The new rules establish four categories for REF funding: municipal; affordable housing; pre-development consultant and technical feasibility studies; and other renewable-energy projects. They set funding caps of $1 million per year and $500,000 per project for municipal energy projects; $200,000 per year and per project for affordable-housing projects; and $750,000 per year and no more than an aggregate of $250,000 per year for “other” projects. And they assign the EDC director authority to approve grants, recoverable grants and loans up to $50,000, requiring that larger disbursements be approved by the agency’s board of directors.
The fund currently has a balance of $4.1 million, of which $3.2 million has been committed to aid in the development of the R.I. Ocean Special Area Management Plan (SAMP). That project is being coordinated by staff at the University of Rhode Island (URI) and the R.I. Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC).
“The Renewable Energy Fund is an important asset in creating greater energy independence for our state and in building our capacity to create jobs in this sector,” Kaplan said. “We’re looking forward to putting the fund to work and are excited to have the RIEDC team to bring new focus to this emerging opportunity.”