LA Leading the Way in Advanced Energy Job Creation
As policy makers struggle to jumpstart the economy, they might take a closer look at what’s happening in Los Angeles, where advanced energy jobs are surging.
Two reports highlight LA’s enormous growth in advanced energy jobs and the benefits of smart investments and policy leadership.
A study released by Californians for Clean Energy and Jobs (CCEJ) finds that Los Angeles and its adjacent four counties have overtaken the Bay Area as home to more advanced energy jobs than any other region in the country. The report, “Green Jobs and the Los Angeles Region,” says the number of LA region advanced energy jobs has been growing at triple the rate of the larger economy for 15 years and now represents almost 4 percent of total employment, a figure more than likely to double by 2040. It also says 10 times more people in the region are now employed in advanced energy than the oil industry.
Another report on clean energy job creation released by the Brookings Institution used different metrics but still found that Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana ranked second among the country’s 100 largest metro areas, just behind the combined area of New York City-Long Island-northern New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
That’s great news for southern California – and the rest of the country.
When we power our vehicles, homes and offices with fuel sources that don’t harm the environment and don’t depend on unstable regimes, we are building a stronger America – and creating American jobs that can put people back to work and get the economy back on track.
It’s imperative that more states and regions grow their own advanced energy sectors. Other countries are not sitting idle while America, the birthplace of so much technological innovation, contemplates the future. In the last two years, China and Germany have passed the United States in advanced energy investment. Winning the advanced energy race now is central to long-term American competitiveness.
So how can we move quickly to create advanced energy jobs now and build a sustained advanced energy economy to power our country in the future?
First, we need to accelerate retrofitting of commercial and public buildings – this is truly the “low-hanging fruit” that can create jobs, reduce energy costs, and improve the environment. Most of the 70 billion square feet of old commercial and industrial space in the US, including 8.5 billion in California, lacks the newest energy-saving technologies for lighting, heating and cooling, and other building systems. With upgrades, building owners can save as much as 40 percent on utility costs and create thousands of construction and manufacturing jobs in the process.
Second, we need to encourage the development of regional “advanced energy innovation clusters.” These clusters will bring together advanced energy companies, investors and academics to collaborate and encourage innovation, much as Silicon Valley did for technology. They will spawn new industries and create technologies and products for export and domestic use.
Third, we need to continue the many state and local policies that drive advanced energy growth. California’s landmark pollution law, AB 32, requires lower emissions by 2020 and will yield the next round of advanced energy investments, new jobs, and economic benefits. AB 32, in fact, is a major reason that the advanced energy industry finds California an attractive place to invest, expand and do business. The renewable portfolio standards signed into law earlier this year by Governor Brown, requiring California’s utilities to get 33% of their electricity from advanced energy, will also greatly aid these efforts – as will the extension of the public goods charge currently being debated in Sacramento.
We are fast approaching an historical economic turning point in America, not unlike a century ago when agriculture gave way to manufacturing, or even a generation ago, when the technology revolution began filling the void of a fading manufacturing base.
Our path is clear – investment in a advanced energy economy will create jobs, improve our environment and allow us to be leaders in selling advanced energy technologies and products to the rest of the world.
These reports show what’s possible when enlightened interests and market forces join together. We need to build on LA’s momentum. By taking the appropriate steps now, we will grow our economy and safeguard our future.