As already progressive renewable energy legislation is strengthened in New Jersey, the state’s Public Interest Research Group (NJPIRG) was joined recently by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 269 and the wind company Community Energy to release a new report that documented economic benefits of developing clean energy throughout the Mid-Atlantic region.Trenton, New Jersey – March 23, 2004 [SolarAccess.com] The report, “Renewables Work: Job Growth from Renewable Energy Development in the Mid-Atlantic,” found that developing the potential for renewable energy in the region would promote job creation and benefit New Jersey’s economy. The report was released the day after the Board of Public Utilities finalized new requirements on power companies to provide more clean energy to New Jersey homes and businesses. The new rules will increase the use of solar power in New Jersey more than tenfold, and require that four percent of the state’s electricity come from clean renewable sources, all by the year 2008. The solar requirement within the rules has resulted in dozens of new solar companies flocking to the state. “Renewable energy like solar and wind have enormous potential to create jobs and boost New Jersey’s economy. NJPIRG strongly supports the McGreevey administration’s actions to increase clean energy in New Jersey,” said Emily Rusch, Energy Advocate for NJPIRG. Findings of the report include: – The National Renewable Energy Laboratory predicts that by 2030, 10 percent of the United States electricity demand will be met with solar energy. By establishing New Jersey as an industry hub, New Jersey is positioning itself for economic growth in research, manufacturing, and installations. – Installing a 2 kW photovoltaic system on just one out of ten homes in the Mid-Atlantic would create 5,710 year-long local jobs in installation, operation, and maintenance and 8,080 yearlong manufacturing jobs. – In the Mid-Atlantic Region, there are enough land-based natural wind resources that are currently economically feasible to provide nine percent of our region’s energy demand. By developing these sites, the Mid-Atlantic region would see over 11,000 new yearlong jobs in manufacturing, with a payroll of $334 million; 740 permanent jobs in wind farm operation and maintenance, with a yearly payroll of $30 million; and 12,700 yearlong jobs and 850 permanent jobs indirectly supported by the wind industry. “As this report shows, clearly New Jersey will only benefit from increased clean energy development. Wind and solar not only reduce air pollution and nuclear waste, prevent natural gas price spikes, and increase reliability, but clean energy also benefits our workforce and the economy,” said Rusch. Because New Jersey has made a commitment to clean energy and positioned itself as a national leader, renewable energy companies are already flocking to the state. In fact, in the last year, thirty new renewable energy companies have started doing business in New Jersey, according to the report.The IBEW Local 269 has also begun a training program for union workers to be employed as solar installers. In addition, as New Jersey formalizes its commitment to clean energy, neighboring states are following New Jersey’s example. Both the Pennsylvania and Maryland state legislatures are currently considering legislation that would also set requirements for clean energy. Governor Pataki in New York has also voiced strong support for renewable energy standards. The interest in renewable energy in New Jersey and neighboring states is not surprising, considering global market demand. Wind is the fastest growing energy sector in the world, and solar power is a close second. As both of these industries expand, production costs continue to decrease, and many wind projects are now cost-competitive to natural gas power plants. The report points out that by guaranteeing local demand, policies like the New Jersey renewable portfolio standards position the region to benefit from the growing marketplace. “New Jersey must now build upon our recent successes, and look to the future. Research shows that by the year 2020, 20 percent of our energy could come from clean renewable power like wind and solar. A long-term commitment to renewable energy would situate New Jersey as a hub for a growing international marketplace,” summed up Rusch.