Study: San Joaquin Valley has potential for 100,000 clean energy jobs

Source: California Business Alliance for a Green Economy

Renewable energy projects slated for the San Joaquin Valley could bring more than 100,000 jobs to the area, according to a new study by UC Merced Professor Shawn Krantor.

The study, "The Economic Opportunity from Clean Energy Jobs in California's San Joaquin Valley," calculates job creation from two of the Valley's most significant industries including planned and pending-approval renewable energy projects and the high-speed rail system. Jointly, these two industries are expected to create as many as 103,510 new production and construction jobs right here in the San Joaquin Valley. Production jobs are defined in the study as long-term, while construction jobs are limited-term. 

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"Taken together, clean energy and high speed rail have the potential to fundamentally change the trajectory of economic development and job creation in the San Joaquin Valley," said Dr. Kantor, Professor and County Bank Endowed Chair in Economics at University of California Merced, author of the study. "The San Joaquin Valley is keeping pace with other regions by creating just as many jobs to support a clean energy economy in California." 

The report, issued by the California Business Alliance for a Green Economy, explains that the San Joaquin Valley is well positioned to attract jobs in the clean energy sector – three jobs for every one job created by the high-speed rail system. The transition to cleaner energy sources is expected to bring economic growth to the region, supporting cleantech as well as traditional business. 

Valley renewable energy projects analyzed in the study include Hydrogen Energy California (HECA) in Kern County, Bioenergy in Fresno, Madera Power in Madera, DTE Energy Services in San Joaquin County, Eurus San Drag in Kings County, and SPS Alpaugh in Tulare County, among others. 

"This report illustrates that a healthy and prosperous future for the Valley, and all of California, depends upon a clean, green and efficient economy," said Susan Frank, coordinator for the California Business Alliance for a Green Economy. "As these Valley-based jobs are created, that will translate into a boost in the bottom line for the many small, mainstream businesses providing products and services for the clean tech sector." 

According to the author, the major economic waves that have swept across California in recent decades, such as biotechnology and computer technology, have largely bypassed the San Joaquin Valley. Meanwhile, the emerging clean technology sector is creating jobs at an equal pace with other regions of the state. For example, statewide employment in clean energy grew from 117,000 to 159,000 from 1995 to 2008 (36%), while San Joaquin Valley employment increased by 48% over the same period (Next 10: Many Shades of Green, 2009). Further, the San Joaquin Valley is expected to produce 10% of California's renewable energy within the next ten years once all pending biomass, solar, hydrogen and wind energy projects come online, with the majority of job creation coming from solar. 

"The best part about it is that the renewable energy industry is bringing jobs to our community. These jobs are coming to California because of clean energy policies that make us a leader in the nation," said Tom Cotter, Central California sales manager for Real Goods Solar and member of the California Business Alliance for a Green Economy. "In fact, Fresno is well positioned to be a leader in this effort. We have skilled workers, university resources and an unlimited supply of entrepreneurial spirit." Cotter is co-founder of Green Fresno and is the organizer of Fresno Solar Tour, part of the National Solar Tour, the largest annual grassroots solar event in history. 

Based on projections from the California High-Speed Rail Authority, an estimated 24,000 construction jobs will be created in the San Joaquin Valley to build the rail network in the region. The high-speed rail network and strong renewable electricity standards (33% by 2020) are included in the plan to meet the goals of the state's landmark clean energy law (AB 32).

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