Surprises Abound in Report on Summer’s US Clean Energy and Transportation Project Bounce

Between April and June of this year, five dozen clean energy and transportation projects were announced that will result in 38,000 new U.S. jobs. That figure represents a slight increase from the same period last year when 37,400 jobs were created, and a significant increase from the first three months of 2013 when 12,000 jobs were created. These jobs span the industries of energy generation, manufacturing, transmission/smart grid, energy efficiency, and public transportation. A new report from Environmental Entrepreneurs, known as (E2), breaks down job creation by state. Four of the states making the list in 2Q13 are first timers.

These numbers are necessary to asses the clean energy industry and its ability to create jobs. The prior U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics method, known as “green goods and services,” was a victim of the sequester last Spring. The numbers provided by E2 reveal in which states green-friendly policy is helping stimulate green industries. Below we highlight three states from the Top 10:

State: Alaska

Rank: 9
Projects tallied: 1
Clean energy jobs from projects in operation: 612
Clean energy jobs from projects in progress: -
Clean energy jobs from projects announced: -
Total: 612

Alaska has a long way to go to scratch the surface of its renewable energy potential: just 14 MWh of existing generation out of more than 9 million MWh potential. Roughly 32 MW of wind energy was installed in 2012, resulting in about 300 construction jobs, E2 notes. Small hydro also is perhaps Alaska’s biggest untapped resource. Pursuing energy & resource development in Alaska is complicated, of course. For renewable energy interests, much of the state’s potential is essentially landlocked; there’s far more than local populations could use, and with no broad grid infrastructure to manage it or transmission to export it to demand centers that need it. There are efforts ongoing in southeast Alaska to address this, starting with hydropower exported to nearby Canada and through to the Western Electricity Coordinating Council (WECC) to tap markets across western North America.

More tangibly, E2 cites a $51.5 million additional state commitment to the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation’s Home Energy Rebate and Weatherization Program, which will create more than 600 jobs. It also will save residents millions of dollars in heating costs, E2 points out.

One of the aforementioned first-time Top 10ers was Missouri, which has joined other grain belt states in demanding green energy policies — to the tune of 2,750 jobs in the sector.

State: Missouri
Rank: 7
Projects tallied: 1
Clean energy jobs from projects in operation: -
Clean energy jobs from projects in progress: -
Clean energy jobs from projects announced: 2,750
Total: 2,750

Missouri lands on E2′s clean jobs map for the first time — and its neighbor Kansas as well — thanks to the proposed $2 billion “Grain Belt Express Clean Line” HVDC transmission line upgrade project, which will stretch across the two states (and potentially into Illinois and Indiana) to pipe up to 3.5 GW of renewable power. It’s currently in early development facing several years of approval; construction is planned to start in 2016 with commercial operation in 2018. Estimates are for 5,000 construction jobs to build the transmission line and wind farms, and another 500 permanent jobs for operations & maintenance; jobs also could be generated if manufacturing is built out for turbines and towers and associated gear.

At a smaller scale, Kansas City recently committed to install solar PV at dozens of municipal buildings. That could make it one of the solar-friendliest cities in the entire Midwest.

Hawaii is no surprise in the top tier (they’re second behind California). Although small in size, Hawaii has the natural resources and governmental guidance to make renewable green energy a reality.

State: Hawaii
Rank: 2
Projects tallied: 1
Clean energy jobs from projects in operation: -
Clean energy jobs from projects in progress: -
Clean energy jobs from projects announced: 5,000
Total: 5,000

Hawaii is uniquely positioned to adopt renewable energy, with multiple abundant resources that can already compete against high energy costs, and the country’s most aggressive goals: generate 40 percent clean energy, plus reduce energy usage by 30 percent, by 2030.

Toward the latter end, E2 report calls out a $300 million government initiative to upgrade government buildings with energy efficiency improvements at government buildings, adding new appliances, lighting, and air conditioning at airports, universities, prisons, and wastewater treatment facilities, potentially adding 5,000 jobs.

In renewable energy news, SolarCity broke ground in May on the first phase of one of its SolarStrong projects, the 24-MW solar PV site for 6,500 military family residences at Ohana Military Communities. In June, Hawaiian Electric (HECO) sought regulatory permission to negotiate PPAs with five projects (wind and solar) across Oahu totaling 64 MW, plus allow resubmissions for another 20 projects. In July, HECO submitted its Integrated Resource Planning Report and Five-Year Action Plans, with deactivations and upgrades of existing facilities and fast-tracking utility-scale renewable energy projects and smart grids.

To dig deeper into how the statistics were accumulated and where the states stack up, view the entire report on RenewableEnergyWorld.com.

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