The Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank

Jump start our economy by creating jobs and saving our businesses and taxpayers money

Link to Federal Data

The Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank (RIIB) will put Rhode Islanders back to work, improve energy efficiency, and make our state more economically competitive. As the central hub for existing and new green infrastructure financing initiatives, the RIIB will focus on energy efficiency and renewable energy projects that will save money for residents, businesses, and municipalities on their energy bills. By using innovative financing methods, we can fund tens of millions of dollars’ worth of projects with minimal funding required from general revenue.

The Challenge

  • Energy costs are rising. The RI Public Utilities Commission recently approved a 14.25 percentage increase in electricity rates.
  • The building trades are suffering. From 2005-2010, losses in the construction industry accounted for 26% of unemployment, and the industry has been stagnant since 2010.
  • RI’s energy programs lack coordination. The current energy programs are also dispersed across various agencies, do not address deep energy retrofits for buildings, and have not utilized available federal stimulus funds. 

Creating Jobs, Saving Energy, and Lowering Costs through Innovative Energy Financing

  • Proposal: Build upon the existing success of the Rhode Island Clean Water Finance Agency (CWFA) by adding new infrastructure financing programs and rebranding the agency as the Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank (RIIB). RIIB will:
    • Institute a Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program to finance energy efficiency and renewable energy projects for commercial and residential properties. PACE is a proven financing model that primarily relies on private bank loans, and has been launched in dozens of states across the country.
    • Create an Efficient Buildings Fund to finance improvements to public buildings. The fund will make it easier for municipalities and school districts to pursue deep energy efficiency retrofits and renewable energy projects.
    • Expand the authority of CWFA’s existing storm water revolving loan fund to include providing storm water mitigation loans to commercial entities—not just public entities.
    • Authorize RIIB to administer revolving loan programs with federal funds available for Brownfield remediation. 

Learning from Connecticut’s Green Bank

  • Since its creation in 2011, Connecticut’s Green Bank has energized the state’s clean energy economy by attracting private investment and creating nearly 1,200 jobs
  • During the first year of Connecticut’s commercial PACE program, the Connecticut Green Bank approved 26 commercial PACE projects, representing $20 million in loans. 
  • If Connecticut can do this successfully, so can Rhode Island. 

Anticipated Outcomes

  • The anticipated $21 million in funding for the Efficient Building Fund is projected to support deep energy retrofit projects for approximately 40 large public buildings. A conservative 15 percent energy savings in energy spending across 40 municipal buildings could represent total savings of close to $800,000 annually and $8 million over ten years.
  • The projected first-year commercial PACE impact is 8 projects, representing $6-7 million in loans.
  • Federal data indicates that every million dollars spent on construction projects adds 20 jobs to the economy. By this metric, the Efficient Buildings Fund and PACE programs are projected to create hundreds of jobs in Rhode Island in the coming years.

In the Media

Briefing Slides