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Wind and Solar Energy: Renewable Energy to Create Thousands of New Jobs

Nov 26, 2007 - Business Wire

Rhone Resch, President of the Solar Energy Industries Association, and Randy Swisher, President of the American Wind Energy Association, guests at separate Executive News Roundtables sponsored by Energy Policy TV, said the renewable energy industries will be large creators of new jobs in the U.S. in the coming years. Videos of their appearances are available at no cost on Energy Policy TV's Solar and Wind Channels, respectively.

The solar industry's Resch told Energy Policy TV that 55,000 new jobs could be created if the Energy Bill passes with the hoped-for eight-year extension of tax credits. He said that even more jobs could be created if solar continues to grow at its current rate, forecasting as many as 150,000 to 200,000 new jobs over the next decade in solar manufacturing, in efficiency and other ancillary roles and in the supply chain.

Resch said that the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) is considering retraining its members so they can work in the solar industry. Currently, whole communities of solar homes are being built in California, the leading solar energy state after New Jersey. "Silicon Valley," he said, "is being renamed as 'Solar Valley' (because) those companies are making the transition over to solar as the next great high-tech growth industry and we have an opportunity to keep that industry here in the United States."

The wind association's Swisher said that governors and other state officials recognize the job potential for wind energy, and they are actively courting manufacturers and others in the supply chain to capture those activities.

Swisher said that installed wind capacity will grow by at least 50 percent this year and perhaps substantially more with about 6,000 megawatts of capacity currently under construction. He said wind "has been the second-largest contributor (of) new installed capacity behind gas for the last three years." He also said that future turbines are likely to produce more power, citing one manufacturer that is working on a 7.5 megawatt machine and noting that much of the investment in the industry is driving innovation "towards the scaling up process."

Swisher also cited Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) as an important driver of growth for the industry, "not just in terms of megawatts themselves," but as a "tremendous educational tool." Utilities in Texas, for example over-complied with the wind mandates because it was cost-effective to do so and those lessons have "spilled over" to states that do not have RPS.

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SOURCE: Energy Policy TV