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11/09/2012 05:40 PM     print story email story  

Green Job Growth Constrained By Politics, Uncertainty

SustainableBusiness.com News

About 10,800 green jobs were created in the third quarter, a significant number, but much lower than the previous quarters - despite an improving economy.

Top states are California, New York, Oregon, Washington, New Mexico, Texas, North Carolina, Minnesota, Illinois and Nevada.

The latest "What Clean Energy Jobs? These Clean Energy Jobs!" report from Environmental Entreprenuers (E2) shows that job growth is being constrained - especially in clean energy - by uncertainty over the election and policies such as the wind production tax credit (PTC) that's about to expire.

In the first quarter, 46,000 clean energy jobs were announced - four times that of the third quarter - and 37,000 jobs were tracked in the second quarter.

"These numbers show that policy matters," says Judith Albert, executive director of Environmental Entrepreneurs. "With clean energy job announcements slowing down, it becomes even more important that Congress and the administration take the right steps to ensure that we don't lose any more momentum in the clean energy sector that's helping both our economy and our environment."

Solar, wind and biogas power generation companies announced 40 projects that together will create more than 6,000 jobs. But wind manufacturing job announcements fell to zero.

Here's a breakdown of the top 10 states for Q3, ranked by the number of potential positions:

  • California (8 projects, 1,480 possible jobs)
  • New York (5 projects, 1,249 possible jobs)
  • Oregon (6 projects, 767 possible jobs)
  • Washington (2 projects, 727 possible jobs)
  • New Mexico (2 projects, 684 possible jobs)
  • Texas (3 projects, 661 possible jobs)
  • North Carolina (4 projects, 595 possible jobs)
  • Nevada (1 project, 420 possible jobs)
  • Minnesota (3 projects, 390 possible jobs)
  • Illinois (2 projects, 360 possible jobs)

Dead Calm in Wind Energy

Now that the elections are over, the wind industry is planning a multi-front campaign to get the wind PTC extended during the lame-duck session.

The 28-member by-partisan Governors Wind Coalition will hold a press conference next week calling for extension of the PTC, and the Sierra Club will hold a multi-day "wind week" campaign next week that involves labor, environmental and wind industry groups.

The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) is, of course, lobbying at fevered pitch. It will deliver a petition to Congress next week from workers in the industry.

On the other side, the American Energy Alliance, a fossil fuel industry backed conservative group, is circulating their study which shows the wind industry doesn't need help, especially at taxpayer expense.

Since January, uncertainty over its extension has resulted in job layoffs by wind turbine manufacturers and developers across 17 states - at least 3,240 lost jobs by companies such as Vestas, Iberdrola Renewables, Gamesa and Siemens Wind Energy.

"It's hard to expand your business and create new jobs with this much political uncertainty affecting the wind industry," says Jacob Susman, founder and CEO of OwnEnergy Inc, a Brooklyn, New York, wind farm developer.

Up to 37,000 jobs could be erased if the wind PTC is allowed to expire, estimates the American Wind Energy Association. Key wind states such as Iowa and Illinois are particularly vulnerable.

The many vocal supporters for the PTC include the US business community. In September, 19 companies including Starbucks, Ben & Jerry's, Johnson & Johnson, and Levi Strauss sent a letter to Congress asking it support an extension.

You can track project announcements and the jobs they will create using E2's tracking database:

Website: www.e2.org/cleanjobs



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