Cleantech and Green Jobs Policy and Program Update

At the end of the SJF Summit’s first day, three concurrent sessions took place here at the Durham Convention Center.  Those sessions were a cleantech and green jobs policy and program update, workforce engagement strategies session and a panel on green building and green jobs.  The following blog post will touch on some of the information presented at the cleantech and green jobs policy and program update.  Be sure to come back here to read about the other sessions.

The cleantech and green jobs policy and program update was moderated by Deb Gallagher, with Duke’s Nicholas School of Environment.  Three panelists offered their perspectives on efforts to create green jobs.  Those presenters were: Paul Dickerson, of Haynes and Boone, LLP; Ben Taube, of Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance; and Melissa Bradley-Burns of nonprofit Green For All.

Discussing the need for funding, Dickerson noted that “capital is the oxygen that cleantech needs.”  He also commented on the proposed “cap and trade” legislation that is meant to lower greenhouse gas output.

“Candidly, I’m not sure we as a nation can handle a run-up in energy prices for what appears to be a minimal displacement of carbon,” he said.

Regarding Department of Energy funding, Dickerson – who used to work for the federal entity – said there is funding available from the department for many “green” initiatives. However, he said there’s currently disagreement about whether efforts should be focused more on regulation, research and development or deployment of technology.

Meanwhile, Tauke, executive director of the Atlanta-based Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance, gave a summary of how state energy offices are spending the federal funds they are receiving.  He noted that the Obama Administration has poured significantly more funding into the states for energy efficiency and similar initiatives.  For example, he said Georgia received $1 million last year, but this year got $82 million.

States are spending these funds in many different ways.  For example Louisiana is spending $3 million on renewable energy for nonprofits, $40 million to retrofit state facilities and millions more for other projects.

Here in North Carolina, he said $14 million is going to the NC Green Business Fund, $12 million is being put towards small business and industry and other funds are going elsewhere.

From various initiatives, Taube said the job creation figures are very promising.  He said Appalachian states could get about 77,000 new jobs in coming years.

Bradley-Burns continued with success stories from other states.  She said Washington State, for example, measures not only job creation but also the reduction in environmental impact.  And in Massachusetts, she said, the state began a Clean Energy Technology Center and has an alternative energy investment fund that contains $43 million.

She said the recent stimulus legislation allocated $500 million to the Green Jobs Act, a bill that passed under former President George W. Bush.  She said Green For All was instrumental in pushing for that legislation.