Jobs in Clean Energy Down in First Quarter — Still Time for Lawmakers to Promote Recovery

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Environmental Entrepreneurs reports 5,600 clean energy jobs announced in the first quarter of 2014, down by 12,000 the previous year, due to uncertainty surrounding clean energy tax policies and “persistent attacks” on state-level energy programs.

The nonpartisan business group Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2) had both good news and bad news for us about the first quarter of 2014. The bad news is that in the first quarter there were only 5,600 clean energy job announcements — 12,000 fewer than what was reported the same period in 2013.

E2 says that the reason American businesses have been hesitant to add new jobs to the economy in clean energy is because they have not yet received incentive to do so from our government. Congress has yet to define green energy tax policies, and on a state level, renewable energy programs have been consistently discouraged and renewable energy standards remain ambiguous.

E2 executive director Bob Keefe said, “Congress pulled the plug on smart clean energy tax policies at the end of last year, while in the states, lawmakers are getting bullied by special interests that don’t want our country to produce more clean, renewable energy. Guess who’s suffering as a result? American workers and businesses.”

There are still opportunities coming up that could help the clean energy job market recover from this decline, and E2 mentions three in particular that have a lot of potential to create new jobs:

  • One that could have an immediate impact would be Congress reinstating incentives such as tax credits for biofuels and energy efficiency.
  • Another is coming up early this June, when the Environmental Protection Agency will reveal new carbon pollution limits for existing power plants. That could lead to clean energy companies investing in operations and adding new jobs.
  • Last is State Renewable Portfolio Standards in Ohio, where lawmakers had a chance to stop Senate Bill 310, which threatens to freeze efficiency and renewable energy targets. This week, the bill advanced all the way to the governor, where it’s awaiting signature. Renewable Portfolios have been “defended or strengthened” in Indiana, Kansas, New York, and Vermont.

 

Keefe added, “If we want to keep creating good-paying clean energy jobs in America, our elected officials need to do their jobs first. They need to support these smart policies that will help our economy while also helping our environment.”

 

Now for the good news: E2, despite its slightly discouraging — with a hint of hopeful — report, mentioned the solar industry as a particular stand-out in the first quarter.

 

Residential solar has seen a lot of growth, contributing a good portion to the new jobs created in the first quarter in clean energy.

 

One notable project they saw was the 22 MW Barilla solar project in Pecos County, Texas, which is expected to create 350 jobs. This is not to mention all of the recent expansions in solar companies we’ve seen, which will create even more jobs, or the various nonprofit programs to train people for careers in solar that have also come along. These projects, which seem to be popping up more and more, coupled with the upcoming opportunities for lawmakers to promote more job growth, gives us no reason not to be optimistic for the coming quarters.