Sierra Club: Clean energy initiatives gain momentum this week

• September 22, 2011

Photo Credit: pixor/flickr

By Mary Anne Hitt, Director of the Sierra Club Beyond Coal Campaign

Earlier this year, my husband and I put up solar panels at our home – the first solar project in our historic West Virginia town. Well, just last week, inspired by our project, our neighbor installed a solar system three times bigger than ours. He expects it will generate the vast majority of the electricity his family of five uses. We heard that the town planner recently referred to our block as the town’s “solar district.” This is the kind of keeping up with the Joneses that I could get used to.

My block was not the only place where clean energy gained momentum this week. A new report just out finds that the solar industry is adding jobs faster that the economy as a whole. The solar industry continues to rise, as the Solar Foundation’s 2011 Solar Jobs Census shows:

  • There were 100,237 solar industry jobs as of August 2011
  • There was 6.8% growth from August 2010 to August 2011
  • There were 6,735 new solar jobs created between August 2010 and August 2011

From their release: “To put this into context, the overall economy only grew 0.7% and the fossil fuel electric generation industry actually experienced a 2% decrease in its workforce during that same period. Clearly the solar industry is doing something right.”

As the solar industry as a whole continues to grow, solar prices continue to come down – way down, and in turn, installations are way up. Between impressive job creation numbers, industry-wide growth and falling prices, the solar industry is one of the most promising industries in America today.  And the good news isn’t limited to just one of the clean energy options that will move America beyond dirty, dangerous and increasingly expensive coal.

From solar energy to wind power – the good news continues. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo just reignited the push for offshore wind energy. The state submitted a lease application for the Long Island – New York City Offshore Wind Project – a collaborative effort by New York Power Authority, Long Island Power Authority, and Con Edison to build a massive offshore wind farm 13 miles off the Rockaway Peninsula (PDF).

Governor Cuomo had plenty of support in this move, too: 42 state legislators wrote to him supporting development of offshore wind (DOC).  New York has substantial offshore wind resources, and it is certainly time for New Yorkers to reap the economic and environmental benefits of locally-produced clean energy. Investment in wind power near New York City and Long Island will mean healthier air, hundreds of clean energy jobs for New York workers and reliable, affordable energy for businesses.

Reposted from our partners at Sierra Club. Read more on their blog.

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About the Author

Karl Burkart is the Digital Communications Director for the GCCA, the Global Call for Climate Action, and TckTckTck, a network of 400+ diverse organizations working around the world for greater action on the growing problem of climate change. Karl also blogs on technology and the environment for a variety of publications. You can follow him on Twitter @greendig.

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