Clean energy projects could generate up to 100,000 construction jobs in the San Joaquin Valley within the next decade, according to a new study out today.
"The emerging clean energy sector provides the promise of jolting the San Joaquin Valley economy that has been wracked by the recent recession," wrote the study's author, Shawn Kantor, who chairs the economics department at University of California, Merced.
Biomass, hydrogen, solar and wind projects alone -- both those in development and those that will be pending regulatory approval -- will generate between 68,366 and 79,512 construction jobs in the San Joaquin Valley, and that's a conservative estimate, the study said.
It also looked at the impact of the state's high-speed rail project. For every rail-related construction job created, there will be three jobs created in the renewable energy sector, the study said.
State regulations aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions have benefits that "can transcend the environment because they can spur innovations, encourage new industrial development, and provide solutions to other problems, such as the foreign trade deficit," Kantor said.
There's been some grumbling that the emerging clean industry sector hasn't lived up to expectations for job growth. Be patient, said Linda Parker, executive director of the Kern Wind Energy Association.
The holdup is a long and cumbersome permitting process, she said, but if you look at the number of renewable energy projects in the pipeline in Kern County, the potential is astounding.
"There are multiple companies that are going to be developing simultaneously," Parker said. "When those get going, that's going to bring a real influx."
Kern County has a real advantage with the Tehachapi Renewable Transmission Project, a new high-voltage transmission line that will deliver power from wind farms, solar panels and other sources, said Robin Fleming, a business developer with the Kern County Economic Development Corp. who works closely with green technology companies.
"It's not even done yet and there's tons of hiring going on," Fleming said. "That's already paying dividends."