Utah ranks No. 1 in clean energy job creation

SALT LAKE CITY - Nov 17 - Deseret News (UT)


Utah is the place for clean energy job creation.

A report researched and released Thursday by Environmental Entrepreneurs, or E2, called Utah "a hive of clean energy activity," ranking it No. 1 among states that created clean energy jobs in this year's third quarter.

E2 is a prominent national environmental organization and has listed Utah among the top 10 states creating energy jobs for four consecutive quarters.

E2 spokesman Jeff Benzak praised the nearly 3,000 new clean energy jobs announced in Utah throughout the quarter, including solar and wind installation projects, while urging continued efforts.

"Clearly, the private sector in Utah is taking advantage of the state's vast wind and solar resources. There's more opportunity out there for Utah's companies and workers, but leaders in Salt Lake City and D.C. must take action on strengthening clean energy policies," Benzak said.

The bulk of those solar jobs came from SolarCity , the nation's largest solar power provider, and Vivint , which has a heavy presence in Utah . SolarCity recently announced intentions to establish regional corporate headquarters in Utah , projecting the creation of thousands of jobs over the next 10 years, the E2 report noted.

Additional solar projects - the Four Brothers solar project in Beaver County and Three Cedars solar project in Iron County - are expected to ultimately provide sufficient solar power for 126,000 homes, according to E2. Both projects are being developed by SunEdison .

Both SolarCity and Vivint work with rooftop solar systems for individual homes, while SunEdison builds solar power plants.

In San Juan County , a new wind farm will add 100 new jobs while contributing to the state's power grid.

Jeffrey Barrett , deputy director of the Governor's Office of Energy Development , said the strides in clean energy jobs in the state represent success in several different goals, including economic development and environmental improvement.

"Utahns, they're interested in clean energy, and we want to do whatever we can to support deployment," Barrett said. "For us, the economic opportunity for these resources and this job creation in rural Utah and now in urban Utah has been a key motivation for us."

While shying away from environmental mandates as a state, Utah has instead sought to make doing business in the state attractive for clean energy companies, Barrett said. Doing so has brought clean energy options to Utah , as well as high-paying jobs.

Barrett especially applauded the work of SunEdison and similar developers building solar power plants in southern Utah . In less than two years, the plants will provide more than 900 megawatts of energy to the state's current power generation capacity of 8,000 megawatts. That includes power from coal, natural gas and hydro energy.

"These power plants are significant," Barrett said. "We're seeing a solar boom with over two dozen projects under construction, ranging in size from 3 megawatts to 80 megawatts."

Other top states in the report include California , Colorado, Texas , Arizona , Georgia , Maine , Nebraska , Mississippi and North Dakota . Overall, 30,000 clean energy jobs have been announced around the country this year, E2 reports.

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