Jobs highlighted at Solaria’s Earth Day celebration

Talks at Earth Day at Solaria’s facility ribbon-cutting remind us that clean energy goals can in fact spur job creation, encourage economic growth, and drive innovation – but nobody said there won’t be costs.

by Paula Mints, Navigant Consulting

April 26, 2011 – Low-concentration manufacturer Solaria marked Earth Day with a ribbon cutting ceremony at its new facility in Fremont, CA. The state’s Lieutenant Governor, Gavin Newsom (former mayor of San Francisco), spoke about the importance of adding jobs to California and the US, and the role that Solaria is playing towards this important goal. Lt. Governor Newsom pointed out that California, “the world’s 8th largest economy,” has no plan for job creation. “We’ve got to get back to actually creating jobs, and the business of creating energy is key here.” Both US Democrats and Republicans rejected the Kyoto Protocol, he said, in part because they didn’t think clean energy goals would help grow the economy. “For those who do not believe that we can reach the 33% AB32 goals, when considering other countries such as Germany, these goals are actually mild,” he said, and can be achieved “as long as we celebrate the innovative spirit that brought us here today” with a commitment to job creation and the environment.

Jared Blumenfeld, regional administrator for Pacific Southwest EPA, wished everyone a happy 41st earth day, and referred to the renewable movement as a repowering of America. Noting that the use of distressed land was preferred, he pointed out that >5GWp of solar projects has now been permitted, and now need funding, etc., to come to fruition.

Karen Douglas, chair of the California Energy Commission, said that the state’s 33% requirement is the beginning of a dramatic shift in the way the US gets its energy. She also noted that natural gas will continue to have a role to play as a partner for RE. “Three years into my term we sank into the great recession,” she said, “and at that time I did not know that clean energy jobs would be crucial to the state’s recovery.”

There is no arguing that the switch to clean energy will be expensive and that utility ratepayers will foot part or perhaps most of the bill. This switch, however, will also create jobs, encourage economic growth, drive innovation and provide for a cleaner environment along with the additional benefit of energy independence. Those arguing most fervently against moving forward are the ones most likely to benefit from the status quo. Surely the paying for the multiple benefits of clean energy is a good, solid choice for all.

Paula Mints is principal analyst, PV Services Program, and director in the energy practice at Navigant Consulting. E-mail:

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