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Published on January 14th, 2013 | by Andrew

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“Less Carbon, More Jobs” — Clean Energy Economic Development In 3 States

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January 14th, 2013 by  

Colorado, Iowa, Ohio – all three states have leveraged their human and other resources and capitalized on clean energy to boost socioeconomic development. EDF (the Environmental Defense Fund) on January 10 released studies that chart the course of  clean energy economic development in all three, part of an ongoing project to provide clean energy development road maps nationwide.

Produced in collaboration with Collaborative Economics, the first three “state road maps” in EDF’s Clean Energy Economic Development Series identify “a formula for success,” EDF writes, “where policy and economic development actions work together across three fronts:

  1. stimulating demand for clean energy products and services;
  2. seeding innovation in clean energy solutions; and
  3. recruiting and supporting new firms, jobs and workforce skills in clean energy.”

Clean Energy In Colorado, Iowa, & Ohio: Roadmaps For Success

Among the reports’ highlights:

  • Ohio experienced record investment and merger and acquisition deals in clean energy in 2010 and 2011. Ohio also significantly increased patents in batteries, fuel cells, and wind technologies, moving up in national rankings in all three areas.
  • The Metro Denver region alone had about 1,500 companies and 18,000 workers in the cleantech sector in 2011, and achieved a 35% increase in direct employment growth since 2006.
  • Iowa leads with the second-highest installed wind capacity in the nation and is one of only two states that receive over 20% of electricity from wind power. According to the American Wind Energy Association, Iowa has attracted more major wind industry manufacturers than any other state.

Marshaling state resources and collaboration among the diversity of stakeholders spanning the public and private sectors has been one key element EDF and Collaborative Economics identify as being common to all three states success with regard to clean energy economic development.

In Colorado, for example, renewable energy incentives enacted by state legislators have spurred a near doubling of solar and wind energy installations between 2007 and 2011. Green job creation has been growing at a rapid rate, as EDF notes in its report highlights, and the Metro Denver region has become a hub for cleantech startups and established companies alike.

“Colorado’s leadership in cleantech has been achieved through collaboration,” the Colorado clean energy economic development report authors highlight. “Colorado stakeholders have worked across party lines and with public and private organizations to advance Colorado’s cleantech economy. This supportive environment has been reinforced by the attitudes and behaviors of the people in Colorado.”

Clean Energy & The Fiscal Cliff

EDF and Collaborative Economics also zoom in on and highlight the clean energy policy contained in the American Taxpayers Relief Act of 2012 (ATRA), which Congress recently passed and the President signed into law in order to avoid the so-called “fiscal cliff.”

ATRA effectively extends the wind energy production tax credit for two years by expanding qualifying wind energy PTC criteria from projects that become operational to those that begin construction prior to 2014. Though it came at the last minute, after wind energy industry participants had already shelved project development plans, scaled back manufacturing output, and idled or laid off workers, the PTC tax credit extension will revive activity in the fast-growing clean energy sector, EDF states.

As EDF notes, “According to the National Renewable Energy Labs, the percentage of domestically-sourced equipment used in wind power projects has grown from 35% in 2005-06 to 67% in 2011. Exports of wind power-generating sets have also increased from $15 M in 2007 to $149M in 2011. The ATRA also extends a series of tax credits for energy efficiency upgrades and energy efficient homes.

“The American Wind Energy Association counts 75,000 workers in America’s wind energy sector, with the new tax law expected to save up to 37,000 jobs and create far more over time, as well as reviving business at nearly 500 manufacturing facilities across the country. Ohio, Colorado and Iowa are far enough down the path to start benefiting immediately.”

Image Credit: Vestas Wind Systems

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About the Author

I've been reporting and writing on a wide range of topics at the nexus of economics, technology, ecology/environment and society for some five years now. Whether in Asia-Pacific, Europe, the Americas, Africa or the Middle East, issues related to these broad topical areas pose tremendous opportunities, as well as challenges, and define the quality of our lives, as well as our relationship to the natural environment.



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