North Carolina still ranks among the top states for cleantech jobs.
Four solar major solar projects were announced in North Carolina in the first quarter that could create more than 700 jobs. That total makes the Tar Heel State No. 4 in the country in first quarter cleantech jobs, according to the latest report from Environmental Entrepreneurs. The group, also known as E2, is comprised of business leaders who support policies that benefit the economy and the environment.
The large North Carolina solar projects announced in the first quarter included a major solar farm in Duplin County expected to create an estimated 400 jobs and a solar power inverter factory in Charlotte expected to create more than 40 jobs.
The more than 50 clean energy and clean transportation projects in the first quarter of 2013 could create as many as 12,000 jobs, according to the E2 report. Massachusetts led all states in the first quarter thanks to that state’s $400 million program to make 700 state buildings more energy efficient. That effort is expected to create an estimated 4,100 jobs. California was No. 2 with 12 announcements that could potentially create more than 2,800 jobs; Indiana’s three announcements are projected to create 1,690 jobs.
North Carolina ranked in the top 10 in E2’s quarterly state rankings for the fourth time. The only other states to match that are Texas and California, both leaders in wind energy production. E2 notes that North Carolina’s top five finish comes despite legislative efforts to repeal the renewable energy portfolio standard, the renewable energy production targets that the state had set for utilities. E2 and others credit these renewable energy benchmarks with supporting the growth of cleantech jobs, particularly solar energy jobs for North Carolina
Cleantech jobs appear to have some support from Gov. Pat McCrory. This week he declared June “Solar Energy Month.”
“North Carolina is home to one of the fastest growing solar industries in our nation,” McCrory said in a prepared statement. “It is important that we recognize the impact the solar industry is making in our state, not only in terms of being another valuable piece to an ‘all-of-the-above’ energy plan, but also the high-quality jobs the industry creates for hardworking North Carolinians.”
North Carolina ranked 5th in the U.S. for annual installed solar phototovoltaic (PV) capacity in 2012, up from its 8th place ranking in 2011, according to according to statistics from the Solar Energy Industries Association. From 2006 through 2012 more than 1,500 solar PV systems totaling over 561 megawatts of capacity were registered with the N.C. Utilities Commission. North Carolina now has nearly 2,000 solar industry employees and is home to 501 solar companies.