Renewable Energy Powers Oregon’s Job Growth

Guest blog by Sophia Aguilera, student, University of Portland

“There are no jobs in this economy!” These are the dreaded words we all fear. But what if we were to tell you that you might simply be looking in the wrong place? While jobs in fossil fuels are plummeting, opportunities for good, family-wage jobs in the renewable energy sector are growing.

Oregon is rich in the resources needed for the production of renewable energy, and thousands of Oregonians are already employed in the growing clean energy economy. Home to more than 130 wind and solar companies and suppliers, Oregon is an undeniable leader in green jobs. [1] Strategic statewide clean energy investments have already made the state the second in the nation for clean economy jobs as a share of total employment.[2] And in recent years, the amount of electricity generated from non-hydroelectric renewable resources has almost quadrupled.[3] Oregon has brought in over $9 billion in capital investments through its renewable energy sector while significantly strengthening job creation in the state.[4]

There has never been a better time to become part of the clean energy economy. Green jobs offer significant job growth opportunities across many sectors, including solar manufacturing, green building design, wind power, sustainable bioenergy and smart grid technologies.

When it comes to jobs, dollar-for-dollar clean energy spending has proven to be a better investment than fossil fuel spending.[5] One analysis found that while clean energy investments create 7.7 jobs per $1 million in spending, fossil fuels create only 2.2 jobs from the same level of investment.[6] On the ground, renewable energy production has seen steady gains in wind, solar, biomass and geothermal related employment, creating 1,800 jobs over the last four years.[7] Meanwhile, fossil fuel power generation jobs are in decline, shedding more than 5,800 jobs during that same period.[8]

jobs chart

As the chart above describes, clean-energy spending not only creates more jobs, but also more opportunities for employment across all skill levels: there are twice as many high-skill positions for college graduates, three times as many jobs for those with some college education, and almost four times as many jobs for those with a high school diploma or less education in the clean energy economy, versus those in fossil fuel energy.[9]

Transitioning to cleaner energy creates opportunities for innovation and also for rewarding work. Careers in the renewable energy industry often foster passion and pride in the impact they create. Many Oregon companies see the value in creating quality jobs through meaningful work in the renewable energy sector.

Several institutions throughout the state offer educational opportunities for students interested in entering into sustainable fields. Institutions like Columbia Gorge Community College, located in the wind-rich gorge, run premier programs that are leading the nation in wind production while training students in turbine installation, operations and other in-demand skills.[10] The Oregon Green Technician Certificate Program created through a collaboration between the Oregon Consortium, the Oregon Workforce Alliance and nine participating Oregon community colleges gives students the skills they need to successfully take part in the rapidly growing renewable energy workforce.[11]

If you or anyone you know is interested in opportunities in the booming renewable energy sector please refer to the list below for educational opportunities in Oregon.

 

CollegeProgramCity
Blue Mountain Community CollegeGreen Technician (Certificate)Pendleton
Chemeketa Community CollegeRenewable Energy Management (Associate)Salem
Clackamas Community CollegeRenewable Energy Systems Technology Program (Certificate and Associate) Oregon City
Clatsop Community CollegeSustainable Energy Technician (Certificate)Astoria
Columbia Gorge Community CollegeRenewable Energy Technology (Certificate and Associate)The Dalles
Lane Community CollegeRenewable Energy Technician (Associate)Lane
Linn-Benton Community CollegeGreen Technician (Certificate) Water, Environment and Technology (Associate)Albany
Linn-Benton Community CollegeAdvanced Transportation Technology CenterLebanon
Mt. Hood Community CollegeEnvironmental Science and Management (Associate and Transfer options)Gresham
Oregon Institute of TechnologyRenewable Energy Engineering (Bachelor)Klamath FallsWilsonville
Portland Community CollegeRenewable Energy Systems (Certificate and Associate) Solar Voltaic Technology (Certificate and Associate)Portland
Portland YouthBuildersGreen Construction (pre-apprenticeship)

Computer Refurbishing (vocational training for youth ages 17-24)

Portland
Rogue Community CollegeRenewable Energy Technician (Certificate)Grants Pass
Southwestern Oregon Community CollegeGreen Industrial Maintenance Technician (Certificate)Coos Bay
Treasure Valley Community CollegeRenewable Energy and Systems Control Technology (Associate)Ontario
Umpqua Community CollegeGreen Technology (Certificate)Roseburg

Sources

[1] Gardiner, D., Grubert, M., Hodum, R., & Koester, S. (2015). Powering up Oregon: A report on the economic benefits of renewable electricity development. A Renewable America and The Oregon Institute of Technology, 1-26. Retrieved March 25, 2015, from http://arenewableamerica.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Oregon-Economic-Development-Report.pdf

[2] Muro, M., & Rothwell, J. (2011, January 1). Sizing the clean economy, The clean economy in the state of Oregon. Retrieved March 25, 2015, from http://www.brookings.edu/~/media/Series/Clean Economy/41.PDF

[3] U.S. Energy Information Administration – EIA – Independent Statistics and Analysis. (2014, June 19). Retrieved March 25, 2015, from http://www.eia.gov/state/analysis.cfm?sid=OR

[4] Renewable Northwest –Oregon Renewable Energy Projects Fact Sheet – Spring 2013. Retrieved April 23, 2015, from http://www.rnp.org/sites/default/files/pdfs/OR_FactSheet_2013JUN24.pdf

[5] Durning, A., & Langston, J. (2009). Green-collar jobs: Realizing the promise. Sightline Institute, 1-47. Retrieved March 25, 2015, from http://sustainableconnections.org/energy/energychallenge/pdfs/sightline-greenjobsprimer

[6]Pollin, R., Heintz, J., Garrett-Peltier, H., Hendricks, B., & Ettlinger, M. (2009). The economic benefits of investing in clean energy: How the economic stimulus program and new legislation can boost U.S. economic growth and employment, Political Economic Research Institute, 1-69. Retrieved March 25, 2015, from http://www.peri.umass.edu/fileadmin/pdf/other_publication_types/green_economics/economic_benefits/economic_benefits.PDF

[7] U.S. Energy Information Administration – EIA – Independent Statistics and Analysis. (2014, December 19). Retrieved March 25, 2015, from http://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.cfm?id=19271

[8] U.S. Energy Information Administration – EIA – Independent Statistics and Analysis.

(2014, December 19). Retrieved March 25, 2015, from http://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.cfm?id=19271

[9] Durning, A., & Langston, J. (2009). Green-collar jobs: Realizing the promise. Sightline Institute, 1-47. Retrieved March 25, 2015, from http://sustainableconnections.org/energy/energychallenge/pdfs/sightline-greenjobsprimer

[10] Columbia Gorge Community College Leads Nation in Wind Training. (n.d.). Retrieved March 27, 2015, from http://www.theseedcenter.org/Colleges-in-Action/Success-Stories/Columbia-Gorge-Community-College-Leads-Nation-in-W

[11] The Oregon Green Technician Certificate Program. (n.d.). Retrieved March 27, 2015, from http://www.oregongreentech.org/index.html

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