Good news came today from Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2) with a groundbreaking analysis that tracked more than 110,000 new clean energy jobs announced by more than 300 U.S. companies and state and local clean economy programs in every region of the country in 2012.
California emerged as the top clean job-producing state with over 26,000 jobs announced from 38 projects that were tracked by E2. At least 15 of the projects tracked were for solar power generation, promising to create as many as 4,000 jobs. New solar projects are reaching every corner of California from the large coastal cities to the sunny Imperial Valley and Central Valley areas. The success of California’s solar industry is primarily a result of these three policies:
- The most aggressive Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) in the nation that requires that 33 percent of California’s electricity sales be from renewable sources by 2020, which will be enough clean energy to power nearly 9 million homes.
- The performance-based California Solar Initiative (CSI) that funds solar power on homes, existing or new commercial, agricultural, government and non-profit buildings along with similar rebate programs that ensure California is generating clean solar energy and rewarding systems that can provide maximum performance for solar generation.
- Fair and balanced net metering and interconnection standards that provide homeowners and businesses with utility bill credits for the surplus clean energy that their solar systems feed onto the electric grid. This effort is quickly becoming a key driver of the rapid expansion of solar across California's rooftops, with two-thirds of home solar installations now occurring in low and median income neighborhoods.
As you’ll note in the table above, quick math reveals that 4,000 solar jobs subtracted from over 26,000 still leaves at least 22,000. So you may ask where did all those remaining jobs announced come from?
Two public transit projects accounted for almost 20,000 jobs:
- The City of Los Angeles Crenshaw/LAX light rail transit corridor, which promises to bring over 18,000 jobs to the area, will provide added environmental benefits such as reducing traffic congestion, air pollution and public health costs.
- The Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) Silicon Valley connection line, which is bringing as many as 1,600 planning, construction and line operation jobs over the coming years, will make access to Silicon Valley from San Francisco and the East Bay more accessible to area residents and businesses.
As these two upcoming developments demonstrate, public transit projects are a clear win-win for jobs, economic growth and a cleaner environment as they displace the need for automobiles and lets commuters save considerable time, money and enjoy a safer mode of transportation.
The remaining 2,000-plus jobs E2 tracked in California include several wind projects, geothermal projects, energy efficiency in buildings, clean energy manufacturing, and electric vehicle infrastructure such as plug-in stations across the state.
But the success of California’s cutting edge clean energy policies is not only proving here at home. California’s historic and continued leadership is beginning to build confidence in other states such as North Carolina, Illinois, Kansas, Michigan, Arizona and oft-described rival Texas that they can be equally as successful. For example, just last week Kansas legislators reaffirmed by a majority bi-partisan vote that their state’s RPS is driving new economic growth and jobs. And in the Southeast, North Carolina is leading the region in clean energy development by bringing millions of dollars of new private investment into the state and getting thousands of jobs in return. While Congress continues to dither on climate and clean energy issues, intelligently designed and strongly implemented state policy tools like the ones California is building upon, are proving that they are putting Americans back to work and building our 21st clean energy economy from coast to coast.