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NC ranks high in clean-energy jobs – Charlotte Business Journal

John Downey

Senior Staff Writer-

Charlotte Business Journal

North Carolina ranked fourth in the nation for clean-energy jobs announced in the first quarter, according to a report published by the E2 Environmental Entrepreneurs advocacy group.

E2, a broad coalition of clean-energy companies and organizations such as the Natural Resources Defense Council, ranked North Carolina second in the nation for job announcements in 2012. And it says strong growth in the clean-jobs industry continued in the first quarter.

Its First Quarter 2013 Clean Energy Jobs Roundup says five projects it considers clean-energy efforts were announced in the state from Jan. 1 to March 31 that could bring 733 jobs.

“North Carolina ranked in the top 10 among states for quarterly job announcements for the fourth time,” the report says, noting only California and Texas have been in the top 10 as consistently for the seven quarters during which E2 has kept statistics.

“When accounting for relative size of population, North Carolina was ahead of both California and Texas in clean energy and clean transportation jobs announced per capita,” the report says.

Broad measure

E2 uses a broad measure of potential jobs. For instance, the 400 construction jobs that Strata Solar could bring to the state with its proposed Duplin County project for a 75-megawatt solar farm (100 megawatts of direct current) counts equally with 43 jobs Parker Hannifin has created with its new division in Charlotte that builds inverters and other infrastructure equipment for the wind, solar and other renewable-energy industries.

The Strata jobs are more speculative right now, and the company is not sure whether construction will begin late this year or early next year. And they are construction jobs tied to that one project that will take just several months to build.

Still, the same standard is used for all the state’s in the clean-energy jobs database E2 maintains, which you can find here.

By E2’s calculation, North Carolina ranks behind Massachusetts, California and Indiana for job announcements in the first quarter. The first two are perennial leaders in clean-energy technology in the nation. Indiana was bolstered by investments Chrysler is making in that state to boost production of fuel-efficient 8- and 9-speed transmissions. That accounts for 1,250 of the 1,690 jobs announced for that state in the quarter.

Legislative issues

North Carolina is a distant fourth in the raw numbers of jobs announced for the quarter. Massachusetts' projects announced in the quarter could create as many as 4,100 jobs, and California's projects could bring 2,788 jobs to that state.

But the job potential in North Carolina remains notable, given that its strength continues to rely heavily on the expanding solar-power generation industry.

That industry spent the entire first quarter under a cloud as legislators pushed bills in the N.C. General Assembly to curtail renewable-energy mandates in the state and cut a key tax incentive for the solar industry.

Those efforts, while still alive, appear to be running out of steam. Markus Wilhelm, CEO of Strata Solar, says he is encouraged.

“The N.C. Sustainable Energy Association and the industry at large has done an excellent job coming together … to speak collectively about the substantial benefits that the solar industry has brought to North Carolina in terms of jobs, local investment, clean energy creation,” he says. “Many of the politicians we spent time with over the last 10 months hadn’t heard the story of the modern solar industry — and when they do, they get it.”

via NC ranks high in clean-energy jobs – Charlotte Business Journal.