James Montgomery, Associate Editor, RenewableEnergyWorld.com
September 02, 2013 | 2 Comments
New Hampshire, USA -- In honor of Labor Day in the U.S., here's an update on where clean energy jobs are popping up. More than 38,000 U.S. jobs will result from five dozen "clean" energy and transportation projects announced from April-June of this year, spanning energy generation, manufacturing, transmission/smart grid, energy efficiency, and public transportation, according to a report by nonprofit group Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2). That's up slightly from the same period a year ago (37,400), and triple the job announcements from the first three months of this year (12,000).
Looking only at power generation, job announcements have more than doubled in both the past quarter and past year, to more than 13,000 in 2Q13, according to E2 (the vast amount of them are for solar projects). The big difference has been in projects moving through development and construction and coming into operation. Except California, there are only one or in some cases two projects per state. Four states in E2's top-10 list for 2Q13 have never been there before, while one state makes a return appearance.
E2 tracks each state's new job announcements and recent history via various energy sector publications, media aggregators, and online alerts, all of which pull in reports, corporate statements, and public announcements from national, state, and local sources. The group acknowledges its data collection is not intended to represent the entire national picture, but that multiple sourcing adds a measure of vetting and verification, especially at the local level, explained Judith Albert, executive director, Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2). Many of the clean energy job announcements are heavily weighted toward construction, by definition a short-term or temporary metric as opposed to operations & maintenance. Albert pointed out, though, that construction is a key U.S. economic contributor, and that project-related construction jobs, and residential solar jobs in particular, have absorbed some of the impact of the housing market crash.
Taking stock of new clean energy jobs is increasingly important with all the money being poured into the sector, and how that's become something of an ideological/political football, noted Albert. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics previously compiled "green goods and services" updates which spanned a very wide range of industries (critics say too broadly), but that program was axed this spring, a casualty of the federal government's sequestration. The Ecotech Institute, Brookings, and Pew all do similar "clean jobs index" tallies. Responding to the Obama administration's grand climate change plan this summer, the National Resources Defense Council (NDRC) proposed new carbon emission standards that it claims will also add 200,000 jobs.
These efforts are important "to bestow reality on what is clean energy & what it means to the overall economy," Albert said. Detailed analyses are performed for fisheries, forestry, and manufacturing sectors, she pointed out -- so why not equal focus on clean energy jobs? "There's an old saying," she said: "You can't manage what you don't measure."