Source: The Green Leaf
EDF has been advocating for states to establish On-Bill Repayment (OBR) programs that allow property owners and tenants to finance clean energy retrofits directly through their utility bills with no upfront cost. California and Connecticut are working to establish OBR programs, but Hawaii is expected to beat them to the punch. Hawaii’s program is critical as electric rates are about double the average of mainland states and most electricity has historically been generated with dirty, expensive oil.
Given the potential of OBR to lower electricity bills, reduce that state’s carbon footprint, and expand job growth in the clean energy sector, EDF has been working closely with Hawaii and multiple private sector investors for the past year to develop their OBR program. Once formally launched later this spring, Hawaii’s program will be one of only two in the nation, preceded by New York who enacted their program in 2011.
This commentary originally appeared on our Texas Clean Air Matters blog.
Over the past several years, a combination of market forces and targeted policies has brought about enormous growth in clean energy technologies around the United States. A clean energy economy has developed around these new technologies, creating tens of thousands of homegrown jobs each year. Despite the industry’s initial surge, recent economic uncertainty has led to a plateau in clean energy job growth in most, but not all, regions in the U.S.
According to a report released by Environmental Entrepreneurs, the U.S. created 10,800 clean jobs in the third quarter of 2013, down from 37,000 in the previous quarter.
Notably, Texas doesn’t follow the national trend. Texas clean energy companies created over 660 jobs in the fall quarter of 2013 alone, up from less than 500 jobs in the previous quarter, cementing Texas in the list of top 10 states for clean energy jobs. Read More
The micro-economics of sustainability are big and important: according to The Brookings Institution, the “clean economy” employs 2.7 million workers, which compares favorably to fossil fuels at 2.4 million jobs. That figure represents 57,501 firms in the U.S. directly involved in the clean economy. Of course, I continue to believe many important clean economy jobs in the supply chain are missed in these types of studies. For example, Shuttleworth in Indiana diversified its customer base from solely electronics customers to now having roughly 30% of its business from solar customers. While it may be near impossible to capture these nuances in standard Bureau of Labor Statistics data, such examples illustrate even more how the clean economy provides added value for U.S. job retention and creation (see the The Center on Globalization, Governance & Competitiveness report for more information on the diverse firms in involved in the supply chains for many clean energy solutions).
Most encouraging, however, are two other key findings: the high growth rate for the clean economy sub-sector related to clean energy – 8.3% from 2003-2010 which is essentially double the growth rate for the entire economy during the same period (4.2%). Secondly, the report documents the export strength of this sector of the clean economy versus the overall economy: $20,129 versus $10,390 per job. To bring us out of the recession and reduce the deficit, we need economic activity that enables us to grow fast and export more. Look no further than the clean energy economy. The growth rate validates an earlier study by the Pew Charitable Trusts published in 2009 characterizing the Clean Energy Economy which found a growth rate of 9.1% from 1998-2007.
So, what do these companies need to fulfill their promise? More than anything, they need a predictable stream of U.S. customers. So, every time a politician talks about the need to create jobs, reduce the deficit and grow America again, ask him or her what they are doing to create policies that deliver customers to these firms.