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Pennsylvania to Lead Nation in Renewable Energy Professional Jobs : Published November 2006 All Rights Reserved


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Pennsylvania to Lead Nation in Renewable Energy Professional Jobs

Renewable energy initiatives could finally be what saves  the manufacturing sector from hemmoraging jobs.  One United States governor is tapping into this opportunity to rebuild careers in his state.

The United States has lost more than 7.2 million manufacturing jobs since 1998 and the federal government reacted to these job losses by re-categorizing how the figures are tallied in order to marginalize the losses during the presidential election year of 2004. The nation has added more than 16 million Wal-Mart-type, minimum wage, service sector jobs since year 2000, and reclassified these jobs as "professional."  But those temporary 'Howdy partner, welcome to our store,' jobs are no comparison with highly skilled manufacturing careers that --at one time--  enabled men and women to be proud of their career choice and support a family.

Pennsylvania governor Edward Rendell lobbied for Germany-based Conergy AG to establish a foothold in Pennsylvania. Conergy AG is the world's largest solar power integration company. The move will create up to 50 new engineering jobs and produce up to $100 million in clean energy deals through year 2009. Rendell sees this move as only the beginning for a bright future in renewable energy careers.

"The international community is taking notice of Pennsylvania's clean energy efforts,” Rendell said. "Our commonwealth is a leader in helping to build and deploy a diverse array of alternative energy projects, and that leadership is attracting investments in manufacturing and creating jobs for our residents. Pennsylvania's new economy is being powered by clean energy development, and the door is open to even more opportunities as markets continue to grow."

Mac Moore, regional head for Conergy in North America, said, "The renewable energy market in the United States is growing rapidly and Pennsylvania is taking a leadership role. With the state's forward-thinking policies, we see tremendous potential to develop renewable energy projects and are very pleased to become a part of Pennsylvania's business community."

Rendell along with Leo Gerard (president of the United Steelworkers) and Carl Pope (director of Sierra Club) plan to further reverse the trend of job loss in their central Mid-Atlantic state by introducing long-term sustainable growth in manufacturing.

The Pennsylvania Sierra Club Political Committee announced its intention to develop renewable sources of energy, which to begin with produce 42,668 permanent long-term manufacturing jobs, and eventually positively impact nearly 2,200 manufacturing firms in Pennsylvania alone.

Rendell is a rare sort of governor in the United States because job creation has been his No.1 priority since taking office in 2003. Unlike other high profile governors, Jeb Bush of Florida, Arnold Schwarzenegger of California, or Kathleen Blanco of Louisiana just to name three -- Rendell has turned his state's economy around to add jobs while the aforementioned states seem proud to have only added Wal-Mart jobs. Pennsylvania ranked 15th for job growth in 2005, which is up from 41st in 2003.

Under Rendell, Pennsylvania is the largest state purchaser of green energy in the United States. He championed state legislation requiring electric generators and distributors to provide alternative energy to retail customers, and he attracted one of the world’s largest wind power producers, Gamesa Corporation of Spain, to Pennsylvania, where it has set up a manufacturing facility and a headquarters.

Pennsylvania could further benefit from a national renewable energy program that would create demand for billions of dollars worth of manufactured components used in producing alternative energy including wind, solar, geothermal and biomass technologies.

Such demand could create new markets for domestic firms in Pennsylvania and other industrial states where equipment similar to the components required for renewable power generation are already manufactured.

“Right now we have a historic opportunity to forge a new direction,” said Gerard. “Investments in environmentally friendly alternative energy programs at the state level, supported by federal initiatives, can create a new surge of quality job growth while significantly reducing our dependence on foreign oil.”

The United Steelworkers and the Sierra Club are working together to battle for energy independence and to highlight common issues including global warming and the loss of manufacturing jobs to countries with lower environmental and labor standards.

"Business as usual is no longer an option," said Pope. "We don’t have the luxury of waiting any longer to fight global warming; it’s time to dump the dirty technologies of yesterday and embrace the clean energy solutions that will fuel the economy of tomorrow.  We have the technology and the know-how to create affordable energy solutions. It’s time for our leaders to show the political will."

Pennsylvania is well positioned to benefit from a national program because of its existing strong manufacturing base.  In all, the state has 2,188 firms active in the industrial sectors that could supply the necessary component parts.

If that nation were to develop capacity for 185,000 megawatts of renewable energy that could generate $160.5 billion worth of manufacturing investment and more than 850,600 jobs.

Pennsylvania’s share of that investment could create 19,588 new jobs in wind power, 15,767 new jobs in solar power, 3,402 new jobs in geothermal power and 3,911 new jobs in biomass technologies involving, wood garbage or agricultural wastes.

Pennsylvanians now spend some $30 billion per year on imported energy fuels. Instead of spending overseas, Rendell is investing at home and putting Pennsylvanians to work.

The Pennsylvania Energy Development Authority (brought back to life under Rendell) has awarded $21 million in grants and loans for 57 clean energy projects that will leverage $240 million in private investment. The projects will create 975 permanent and construction jobs.

The Pennsylvania Energy Harvest Grant Program has awarded $21 million and leveraged another $51.9 million in private funds since its inception in May 2003 for projects using sources such as wind, solar, biomass, waste coal and recycled energy.



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