While Republicans in Washington, D.C. are seen as less supportive of renewable or clean energy, in many of their home states, solar, wind and other technologies are becoming increasingly more important to their workforce and Republican governors appear to be much more supportive. And a number of such states are among the top 10 in terms of clean energy jobs. That’s according to a new white paper published by DBL Investors.
The report, written by DBL Investors Managing Partner Nancy Pfund and Michael Lazar, a DBL Investors summer associate and MBA candidate at the Yale School of Management, found that clean energy jobs growth was strongest in states traditionally considered red or Republican states and swing states. Some of the states are particularly surprising, like Alaska and North Dakota and Nebraska. In fact, according to the research paper, over the period of 2003-2010, the state with the fastest growth in green jobs was Alaska, which saw a 98 percent increase in such jobs, mostly in conservation and land issues.
The report was inspired partly by a company DBL Investors is involved with, Soladigm, which makes glass that tints on demand. When the California-based company wanted to open manufacturing, then Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R) offered the company a generous incentive package. “It surprised that this was happening. Then we learned he had done this with several other companies,” Pfund said.
Pfund said she was surprised by the report’s results. “It is counterintuitive if you listen to he talk shows,” she said. There’s a perception at the federal level that Republicans are not supportive of renewables but Democrats are but it appears that’s not the case at home. “To see so many [leaders] be red or swing states was quite a revelation,” she said.
“We feel that this is a sign that clean tech jobs are growing in importance across the country and becoming very appealing to state leaders in their job creation capabilty. And whether you’re a red or blue governor, you like jobs in an era where unemployment is such a problem across the country,” Pfund said. “Governors are pragmatists, if they don’t meet the needs of their states they don’t get reelected,” she said.
The report also shows that state-level policy has a lot to do with how clean tach creates jobs. “Under the Obama Administration, renewables have made tremendous progress. They were double what they were last year. The Obama Administration has done a lot growth for the industry. At the same time, so many policies are set at the state level,” Pfund said.
“By this point with the growth that we’re seeing, solar is really very accepted by Americans of all political persuasions. I don’t think anybody thinks solar is going to go off a cliff,” Pfund said. “One of the reasons we did this report to show that more and more people get employed by clean tech, you’re going to have to take the industry more seriously both from the employment standpoint and a political one.”
If Republican candidate Mitt Romney were to win the presidential election, Pfund anticipated that there will still be support for renewables. “It might be more rocky. But the underlying strength and support is there,” she said.
You can read the white paper here: Resources& Reports | DBL Investors