Understanding the Meaning about Green Jobs

Given the upcoming proposals on the next generation climate policies, it is critically important to start understanding exactly what the green economy means to California’s long term jobs future. According to a recent review from the Center for Jobs and the Economy, multiple studies indicate that 2% of all California jobs are classified as green jobs.  There is evidence that California has gained temporary jobs around construction and installation of solar facilities and consulting work for government and private employers, but it appears that the green sector has not yet developed substantial permanent, middle income jobs for a long term employment base.

We need to put the numbers into perspective and understand the unique role they will play and how we can develop state policies that recognize their importance while growing the other 98% of our current jobs in other sectors.

For example, the only hard green jobs data from the state was a California Employment Development Department (EDD) survey from May 2009 to January 2010 which found that “the results also showed no discernable difference in the likelihood that a green or non-green firm would experience a net job gain.” The state should have the latest and most transparent green jobs data to help the Governor and policymakers in their decision-making.

While some green industry sectors are growing, many studies rely on reclassification of traditional jobs such as those in garbage, public transit, utilities, and government regulatory positions as “green” in order to arrive at their numbers.  This issue is critically important because major environmental and energy policy decisions will be based on these classifications and incomplete numbers. The Center noted that some reports on green jobs build their numbers by including indirect jobs, including supporting services such as “consulting, finance, tax, and legal services.”

The analysis also found that nuclear, hydro, and natural gas power jobs are treated as green jobs, including in the most recent higher estimates, although those facilities are not designated as such under the AB 32 program.  If we expect to have an accurate accounting that will guide policy-making, then we need to start with a reasoned and practical definition of a green job to be used by government and private entities.

You can find the study here.
Rob Lapsley is President, California Business Roundtable

Solar Energy Will Produce Less Than One Percent Of US Power In 2015

Despite millions in subsidies and government loans, solar power is projected to remain a tiny portion of overall electricity generation in the U.S., according to Energy Department figures.

Utility-scale solar power generation is projected to increase in 2015, but it will still make up only 0.6 percent of total U.S. electricity generation, according to the Energy Information Administration. Utility-scale solar has more than doubled in 2013 and EIA expects solar capacity will nearly double again in 2015.

Federal, state and local subsidy regimes and green energy mandates have helped the solar industry grow in the last few years. In the third quarter of 2014 alone 1,354 megawatts of photovoltaic (PV) solar power capacity was installed, a 41 percent leap over the same time period in 2013.

There is now 16 gigawatts of operating PV solar capacity in the U.S., according to the Solar Energy Industries Association. The group says that 36 percent of the new generating capacity that came online in 2014 has come from solar.

Most of the growth in solar comes from the PV market, SEIA reports. But concentrated solar generation saw huge growth earlier this year when the Ivanpah solar facility in Southern California finally came online.

Ivanpah, the world’s largest concentrated solar plant, uses 173,500 heliostat mirrors to reflect sunlight onto centralized towers. The sunlight heats up water in the towers which turns into steam to generate electricity.

The project is co-owned by Google, NRG Energy and BrightSource Energy and was given a $1.6 billion loan by the Obama administration in an effort to incentivize more utility-scale solar projects.

“It’s going to put about 1,000 people to work building a state-of-the-art facility. And when it’s complete, it will turn sunlight into the energy that will power up to 140,000 homes,” President Obama said.

But Ivanpah has not lived up to its expectations. Not even a year after it began operations, the project’s owners have asked the federal government for a $539 million grant to help pay back its federal loan.

Apparently, Ivanpah has only been generating about one-quarter of the energy it was said it could produce. Why? Because the sun hasn’t been shining as much as studies predicted it would.

Because of the lack of sun, the plant has had to increase its use of natural gas to heat up its water towers. Natural gas is used to prime the steam boilers before the panels come online so the plant can quickly generate power. Gas is also used to keep power going during times of intermittent sunshine.

“This is an attempt by very large cash generating companies that have billions on their balance sheet to get a federal bailout, i.e. a bailout from us – the taxpayer for their pet project,” Reason Foundation vice president Julian Morris told Fox News. “It’s actually rather obscene.”

Despite Ivanpah’s problems it has still been named the “2014 Renewable Energy Project of the Year” by Renewable Energy World – a green energy news publication.

This piece was originally published at the Daily Caller News Foundation.

Brown fuels incentives for alternative-energy cars

Convinced carbon emissions pose an “existential threat” to the human race, Gov. Jerry Brown just signed a set of bills designed to push ahead an environmental agenda dependent on automobiles that don’t run on gas. Among other new rules, regulations and programs, the new legislation set three changes in motion.

Assembly Bill 2013, by Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi, D-Torrance, expanded the sticker program that authorizes drivers of low-emissions vehicles to use High Occupancy Vehicle lanes regardless of whether they carry any passengers. The bill raised the total number of stickers authorized for DMV issuance from 55,000 to 75,000.440px-Electric_car_charging_Amsterdam

Aware of the symbolic political value of statistics, Gov. Brown has sought to use memorable numbers to capture the environmental imagination of elites and the public alike. That approach was evident in an additional bill signed by Brown, Senate Bill 1275, by state Sen. Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles; on Oct. 15 he will become the Senate’s president pro tempore.

It officially set a goal of one million zero- or near-zero emissions vehicles on California roads by 2023. In addition to ordering the California Air Resources Board to create a plan to meet the objective, SB1275 required the board to create new incentives for lower-income residents, who are less likely to purchase or lease alternative energy cars or trucks.

To do that, CARB was tasked to expand California’s electric and hybrid car rebate program. First used in 2010, over 75,000 rebates have gone out to Golden State motorists. As the Los Angeles Times reported, CARB will beef up that program by offering extra credit to qualifying “low-income drivers” who choose an electric vehicle.

Moreover, CARB will oversee the installation of new charging stations in selected low-income residential buildings and bolster car-sharing programs in targeted neighborhoods. “Low-income residents who agree to scrap older, more polluting cars will also get clean-vehicle rebates on top of existing payments for junking smog-producing vehicles,” according to the Times.

Beyond cars

Finally, Brown signed off on legislation using CARB to push alternate fuel use for heavier vehicles. That bill, SB1204, was introduced by state Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens. Its aim is to subsidize the development, purchase and leasing of zero- and near-zero emission buses and trucks, dramatizing Brown’s vision of an overhauled transportation infrastructure for California.

To do that, however, SB1204 authorized $200 million in cap-and-trade fee revenue to be allocated to various incentives for alternate-fuel buses and trucks. In the recent past, Brown came under fire, even from environmentalists, for diverting cap-and-trade funds to his prized but costly high-speed rail project. Although critics have not rallied against the new allocation of funds, Brown’s rival in this year’s gubernatorial race did not hesitate to jump on the move.

“If he was serious about climate change,” Neel Kashkari told the Sacramento Bee, “he would be taking the cap-and-trade revenue and funding basic research at Stanford, at Berkeley, at Caltech, so we develop cleaner technologies that are also cheaper, and we export them around the world.”

A final mission

With Brown’s tenure in Sacramento coming to an end either this year or in four years, his idiosyncratic but dogged approach to environmental issues has taken on the air of a capstone personal project. At this week’s United Nations summit on climate issues, Brown told world leaders that within six months he planned to set new, lower carbon emissions goals for 2030.

AB32, the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, mandated reducing carbon emissions by 25 percent by 2020, just six years away.

Realizing his ambitions, Brown said, will take more ambition and more technology, “and will also require heightened political will.”

James Polous is a contributor to Calwatchdog. This piece was originally posted on Calwatchdog.com