Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo announced her plans for the state's clean energy future on Tuesday.
She is proposing to make the ocean state a major center for the offshore wind economy, that she says will sustain thousands of jobs. Raimondo also said she’s dedicated to mandatory emissions restrictions, despite the direction of the Federal Government.
“With everything that's happening in the federal government - whether its reproductive freedom or the affordable care act, we can no longer count on the federal government to protect Rhode Island," she said. "So we need to be creative, and figure out what we can do at a state-level to protect our environment, our jobs.”
She said the offshore wind industry will create over 5,000 jobs in welding, boat building, iron-working trades, along with research and development jobs, like marine biology and oceanography. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, wind turbine service technician jobs are the second-fastest growing occupation in the country – with these jobs projected to nearly double by 2026 – and paying a solid wage of about $54,400 per year.
Raimondo said if she is elected a second term, her administration will expand workforce development policies and expand the availability of world-class port access geared towards heavy industry use at the Port of Providence and Quonset. She also called for additional areas along Narragansett Bay to support the offshore wind industry.
In addition, Raimondo vows that she’s committed to ensuring that the growth of offshore wind will not adversely affect commercial fishing. “Many in Rhode Island make a living as commercial fishermen – it’s a way of life. The two can coexist – we can have a vibrant commercial fishing industry and a vibrant renewable wind industry. We [can] map out the turbines in a way that enables them to continue to flourish,” she said.
According to Raimondo, increasing the state’s investment in renewable energy will not only help reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that are causing climate change but will also create jobs in Rhode Island.
“When I took office, RI had about 5% of its energy supply coming from renewables. Now, we’re on track to be just above 40% by 2020. And a large part of that is because of offshore wind,” she said.