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Sunday, 01 December 2013 19:20

Michigan among leading states for clean energy growth, report says

Written by  Joe Boomgaard
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Michigan among leading states for clean energy growth, report says SOURCE: Environmental Entrepreneurs

Michigan companies created about 1,100 new clean energy jobs in the third quarter of 2013.

That’s according to a new report from Environmental Entrepreneurs, a group that tracks job creation in the clean energy and alternative transportation sectors.

The state ranked fourth for clean energy job creation behind California, Nevada and New York, according to the organization’s “Clean Energy Works for Us” report issued in November, which stated some 15,000 new jobs nationwide can be attributed to the clean energy and clean transportation industry.

Recent projects highlighted in the report included the expansion of Contractors Building Supply in Copemish to assemble solar panels and SmartWatt Energy Inc.’s opening of a new Grand Rapids office, which were projected to create about 15 jobs combined.

Larger projects included an expansion at Pontiac-based solar panel manufacturer Sader Power and at Jackson-based Consumers Energy through the ongoing roll out of its various efficiency programs, the report stated.

The report said federal policy uncertainty, “which is forcing some companies to reconsider expansion plans,” had a cooling effect on clean energy job growth in the quarter. In particular, while the clean energy job sector led the employment gains the report tracked nationwide, the report cited the lack of a long-term production tax credit for wind energy for that sector’s “relatively slow growth.”

Solar energy companies, which benefit from a long-term investment tax credit, added more than double the jobs (4,400) that the wind energy sector created (2,000) in the quarter, the report stated.

“Clean energy policies have a real impact on workers across the country,” Judith Albert, the executive director of Environmental Entrepreneurs, said in a statement. “Washington, D.C. may be far removed from what’s happening in the heartland, but wind industry workers there will feel the pinch as the wind tax credit expires, the project pipeline dries up, and wind jobs become scarce.”

Michigan also ranked 15th out of all states in EY’s “all renewables index” released in August.

EY found that renewable energy investment was down overall nationwide last year compared to 2011, but it remained at about 50 percent of the new capacity added in 2012.

This year, Clean Edge Inc. ranked Michigan 12th among all states in cleantech leadership based on nearly 70 different state-based metrics. In particular, the state was ranked 8th in cleantech policy for its RPS standard and various grants and rebates available for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.

However, the state ranked 35th in the actual deployment of that clean technology, as measured in renewable energy generation, the use of clean transportation such as electric vehicles, and “energy intelligence/green building.”

Clean Edge also noted that Michigan ranked eighth in clean energy venture capital investments in 2012 at $14.09 per capita and a total of $139.2 million invested in eight projects. The state was second in patents granted per million people (20.4) behind Delaware (29.4), and third in total clean energy patents granted (202) behind California (345) and New York (217). A majority of the patents were for fuel cell technology and hybrid and electric vehicle systems, the report stated.

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