NewEnergyNews: OBAMA ENERGY PLAN BRINGS WORK

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    Wednesday, March 25, 2009

    OBAMA ENERGY PLAN BRINGS WORK

    Federal energy initiatives buoy hopes of job hunters
    Jennifer Koons, March 23, 2009 (NY Times)

    SUMMARY
    Recruiters and industry insiders report the job market in the New Energy sectors is holding up in spite of the cascading economy and associated rising unemployment.

    The strength of the “green” job market is both a justification for and the result of President Obama’s commitment to New Energy and Energy Efficiency.

    The stimulus package directs $62 billion to the sector and $500 million for “green” jobs training programs.

    The latest commitment from the President is a $2.4 billion competitive grant program to drive the growth of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and especially plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs).

    Exemplary of the buzz associated with careers in New Energy and Energy Efficiency fields was the attendance of 800 job candidates and dozens of corporate, nonprofit, state and federal government agency recruiters, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), at a recent “green” jobs fair for Ivy League students at Columbia University.

    This Center for American Progress studied showed New Energy investment is the most effective way to use stimulative federal funds. (click to enlarge)

    Beside the Obama administration's initiatives, state and local incentives are also buoying the sectors. Vestas Wind Systems is building what may be the world's biggest turbine-tower factory in Pueblo, Colorado, as the result of $2 million in tax breaks provided by Colorado and the municipality. Vestas recently held a job fair in Pueblo to fill 400 manufacturing jobs. 1,000+ applicants got in. Hundreds more were turned away.

    From the EPA to small cities like Golden, Colorado, and Austin, Texas, funding is going into job training programs.

    The Texas Workforce Commission began offering grants to Texas Tech University and Texas State Technical College in 2008 to provide training to meet the needs of the wind energy industry.

    Clean Edge predicts global solar and wind energy industry jobs will more than quadruple from ~600,000 today to 2.65+ million in 2018. 2009 will be tough for job seekers but not as tough as in most sectors.

    On the promise of New Energy and Energy Efficiency to buoy the economy and turn unemployment numbers around, there are naysayers. The Institute for Energy Research recently released Green Jobs: Fact or Fiction? by economists Robert Michaels and Robert Murphy. They believe “…the distortionary impacts of government intrusion into energy markets could prematurely force business to abandon current production technologies for more expensive ones."

    This Apollo study predicted New Energy investment would produce millions of jobs and many other economic benefits. (click to enlarge)

    COMMENTARY
    - Even before the passage of the stimulus package there was optimism in the New Energy and Energy Efficiency sectors because the President early on expressed commitment to developing his New Energy economy despite falling oil prices which, historically, caused a pullback of funding.
    - The stimulus package guarantees a significant portion of the New Energy and Energy Efficiency sector will thrive through the recession. Businesses are hiring in anticipation of growth.
    - In addition to the good business sense in doing so, students are moving to careers in New Energy and Energy Efficiency because they are attracted by the sense they are doing something worthwhile.
    - Beside career recruitment, the job fairs offer burgeoning opportunities for applicants seeking paid internships and part-time jobs in advocacy for environment, energy and climate change issues.

    click to enlarge

    - The Obama administration’s repeatedly announced and obvious commitment to science-based policy is another reason for the move to jobs in energy-, environment- and climate change-related fields. Scientific evidence grows more unequivocal every day about the need for work in these areas.
    - There is also an expansion of applicants in these areas because the Obama administration has made energy, environment and climate change into household issues, raising awareness and the drive to get involved.
    - Community colleges around the country are beginning to offer New Energy training programs. A wind manufacturer guaranteed a community college in New Mexico full funding and pledged to hire all graduates if the college would start a program to train wind turbine maintenance workers.
    - New opportunities are opening up for attorneys, consultants, teachers, researchers, electricians, contractors, project managers, plumbers and many other kinds of white and blue collar workers.
    - With the Obama administration’s commitment behind it, regulatory oversight and environmental enforcement will increase, creating more work for lawyers and consultants.

    The economists use the most conservative possible analysis and base their conclusions at least in part on inadequate data from before the New energy boom of the last 3-to-5 years. (click to enlarge)

    QUOTES
    - Neal Lurie, Communications Director, American Solar Energy Society (ASES): "While no industry is immune from the effects of the global recession, there are still tremendous opportunities in the new energy economy for job hunters… "
    President Obama: "Show us that your idea or your company is best suited to meet America's challenges, and we will give you a chance to prove it…"
    - Steve Cohen, executive director, Earth Institute/ Columbia University: "There is quite a bit of activity going on right now…The growth in this field is remarkable. The federal government and essentially the people who get funding from the federal government are really thriving. And a number of corporations are seeing an opening for more work as we move into an era of greater regulation…The Obama administration has connected the green agenda to the economic renewal of the country…"
    - Lauren Grochmal, Green Careers Center: "…Just a few years ago, we had maybe one or two green job fairs to go to a year, and now we have to turn people down because there are so many events."

    Van Jones explains the new ethic, the new commitment and the new math to Vice President Biden. This talk is worth 9 minutes of your time. “We save the soul of America when we connect people to opportunity.” From gotSelena via YouTube.

    - Vicky Markham, director, Center for Environment and Population: "We're adding staff now because for the first time in nearly a decade, the issues we work on and the science-based approach we take are receiving more interest and attention than in the previous U.S. administration…"
    - Noelle Janka, recruitment director, Green Corps: "We had a record number of applications to our program this year…This can be attributed in part to the state of the economy, but mostly we're just seeing a lot of excitement about the environment from pro-Obama folks…"
    - Scott Schang, attorney, Environmental Law Institute: "After almost 20 years in the wilderness, environment and energy are among the top five agenda issues for the federal government…There's increasing consensus that some of our legal regimes, such as chemicals regulation, need to be overhauled…And to state the obvious, legislation to address climate change is bringing a whole new regulatory regime to the table that will affect virtually all of the economy."
    - Heather Burns-DeMelo, Executive Director, Connecticut Alliance for Sustainable Enterprise: "The future is bright for people interested in innovation…If you're willing to be a leader and to forge the way forward, while considering the mistakes and missteps of what's led us here in the first place, there has never been a better opportunity...If you're looking for an easy row to hoe, this isn't it. Change is happening on so many levels that remaining flexible, nimble and thirsty for acquiring knowledge are keys to success."

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