Employment Growth Opportunity in Clean Energy

Arizona is one of the leaders in adding jobs in this emerging sector
by RaeAnne Marsh

Clean-EnergyArizona made it to the short list of the top 10 states for clean energy jobs added in the first quarter of this year. Sharing this distinction with Idaho, Texas, California, Missouri, New York, Kansas, Hawaii, New Mexico and Louisiana — named in order of ranking — Arizona came in at No. 7 in the country. This was primarily due to two efforts: Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, in Tucson, adding about 140 jobs with the building of the largest solar power array on any U.S. military base worldwide, and Austin, Texas-based energy consulting company CLEAResult adding a bilingual customer care center in Tempe with 200 jobs.

Tracking this employment picture is Employment Entrepreneurs (E2), a national, nonpartisan group of business leaders, investors and others who advocate for environmental policies than can lead to economic growth, and have, in aggregate, built or financed more than 1,700 companies that have created more than 570,000 jobs.

Nationwide, E2 tallied about 5,600 clean energy and clean transportation jobs announced in the first three months of this year. That positive number, though, is actually a decline compared to the 12,000 such jobs reported in the comparable period last year.

“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,” said E2 executive director Bob Keefe.

On the other hand, new carbon pollution standards recently released by the Environmental Protection Agency are expected to make a difference, according to Keefe. These standards call for a 30-percent reduction in carbon pollution from existing power plants. The EPA is leaving it up the individual states as to how to implement them, Keefe says, because “the EPA wanted to give flexibility to the states.”

Among industry sectors in the first quarter, there was a noticeable shift in the types of jobs announced, in the solar industry in particular. Whereas larger, utility-scale projects were drivers of job growth in previous quarters, the most recent report shows residential solar is gaining ground and putting people to work. In Arizona, however, “what happens with net metering will make a difference regarding jobs,” Keefe says, referring to the issue still being debated.

Acknowledging that the coal industry continues to be important, Keefe notes it employs about 80,000 people nationwide whereas, in the past two years, 185,000 clean energy and clean transportation jobs have been added around the country. “So the growth is in clean energy,” he says.

New Employment from Clean Energy in Arizona 2012 to Present 

Seventh in the nation in clean energy/clean transportation job creation in the first quarter of 2014, Arizona dropped from its second-place position in fourth quarter of 2013.

Sector

Company

City or County

Jobs

Date

Description

Building
Efficiency

CLEAResult

Tempe

200

2/2014

Energy efficiency firm opens new customer support center

Solar

Davis-Monthan

Tucson

142

2/2014

Military base installs 16.3-megawatt photovoltaic system

Solar

Abengoa

Gila Bend

1585

10/2013

280-megawatt concentrating solar power facility with solar thermal storage

Solar

Quartzsite Solar Energy

La Paz County

485

5/2013

100-megawatt concentrated solar plant

Solar

Tanque Verde
Unified School District

Tucson

60

2/2013

School district outfits schools with 4,000 solar panels and shade structures

Solar

SOLON Corporation

Tucson

75

2/2013

5-megawatt solar project

Solar

Solar Electric Solutions

San Luis

135

12/2012

20-megawatt solar array

Appliance Efficiency

Aris Integration LLC

Tucson

600

12/2012

Manufacturing plant of modular energy-efficient building panels opens

Solar

SunEdison

Pima

250

10/2012

25-megawatt solar farm

Solar

SolarCity

Fort Bliss

10

9/2012

Solar company expands operations

Solar

NRG Energy; MidAmerican Solar;
First Solar

Yuma

400

7/2012

290-megawatt solar farm

Solar

SPG Solar

Tucson

60

5/2012

2.3-megawatt solar array on city facilities

Solar

Gestamp Solar Steel

Surprise

80

5/2012

Steel manufacturer that supports solar equipment expands

Solar

Arizona Public
Service Co.

Yuma

100

4/2012

35-megawatt solar facility

Solar

LS Power

Maricopa County

940

3/2012

127-megawatt solar project

Solar

First Solar

Tucson

200

3/2012

25-megawatt solar farm

Credit: Environmental Entrepreneurs

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