‘Clean energy’ jobs see a sharp third-quarter slowdown

Jennifer White Contributor
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Job growth in the so-called “clean energy” industry has declined in the past two quarters, despite an improving economy, according to a report released by Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2).

The label “clean energy jobs” covers a wide variety of jobs, everything from drivers of natural-gas powered buses to construction workers. The U.S. economy added more than 10,800 jobs in the clean energy sector and related industries in the third quarter of this year, according to the latest analysis by E2, down from more than 37,000 in the second quarter and more than 46,000 in the first quarter of 2012.

E2 tracked announcements involving more than 37,000 jobs in the clean energy sector during the second quarter. In the first quarter of this year, there were 46,000 clean energy jobs announced — more than four times as many as in the third quarter.

“These numbers show that policy matters,” said Judith Albert, executive director of E2. “With clean energy job announcements slowing down, it becomes even more important that Congress and the administration take the right steps to ensure that we don’t lose any more momentum in the clean energy sector that’s helping both our economy and our environment.”

The report suggested that what was once strong job growth in the clean energy sector is being reined in by the possible expiration of policies such as the production tax credit (PTC) for the wind industry. PTC has been the primary financial policy for the wind industry since its inception in 1992, providing an income tax credit of 2.2 cents/kilowatt-hour for the production of electricity generated by utility-scale wind turbines.

E2 began tracking the status of clean energy jobs back in September 2011.

The top 10 green job states in the third quarter of 2012 were (from No. 1 to No. 10): California, New York, Oregon, Washington, New Mexico, Texas, North Carolina, Minnesota, Illinois and Nevada.

During the second term of his presidency, Barack Obama has promised to continue funding clean energy subsidies such as solar and wind, advanced vehicles and a domestic battery industry, high-speed rails and trains and clean coal plants.

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Jennifer White