Tri-County pitches in making state second-best in green report
Vance, Warren and Granville counties played a role in North Carolina being named the second-most productive state in the nation in creating clean energy jobs during 2012.
A report was recently released by Environmental Entrepreneurs showing 10,867 new clean energy jobs were announced in North Carolina during 2012, second only to California’s 26,354. Those totals included projects announced, in progress or in operation. The year before, North Carolina was ranked eighth.
And North Carolina’s job creation appears to be gaining momentum. During the last quarter of 2012, a total of 7,610 new “green” jobs in the state were announced, more than the number accounted for by the next nine states combined.
The report described results for a variety of clean energy industries, including manufacturing, wind power generation, solar energy creation, energy efficiency and public transportation.
In that first category, the southeast region of the United States is described as “a clean energy-manufacturing hub.” According to the report, “The Southeast led all U.S. regions for clean manufacturing with more than 13,700 jobs announced in 2012 — about 80 percent of the nation’s total in that sector.”
The Environmental Entrepreneurs findings were corroborated by a study conducted by RTI International and the Boston consulting firm La Capra Associates, which found that green energy, clean technology and improving energy efficiency have benefited North Carolina in two ways — by reducing energy costs and by creating jobs.
The report summarized the positive impact of clean energy jobs: “These jobs are helping to revive the manufacturing sector in states like North Carolina and Ohio, cutting energy costs for municipalities, and scaling up new industries like electric vehicle manufacturing.”
The local area is beginning to share in the benefits and is preparing for future development.
North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association (NCSEA) has identified a number of green companies in the local area. Vance County is the location of ALT Services Group, Innovative Green Builders and Semprius, all in Henderson, and Builder Tony Hirst in Kittrell.
Semprius, which uses a micro-transfer printing process to make small solar cells, was recently identified by MIT Technology Review as one of “50 Disruptive Companies 2013,” companies that are demonstrating original and valuable technology. Semprius also received plaudits in the May/June 2012 edition of Technology Review as one of the top 10 most important emerging technologies.
With 50 employees, Semprius contributes to North Carolina’s reputation as a creator of green jobs.
Green companies in Oxford include the Biofuels Center of North Carolina, Superior Walls of North Carolina and Affordable Green Builders.
Betsy McCorkle, director of government affairs for NCSEA, said 44 renewable energy projects are registered in Vance County and the surrounding area. Of these, 20 are corporate projects and 24 are individual projects.
Warren County has seen the completion of three solar farms in the past year. One of these was atop Warren County High School. Another used the roof of the Glen Raven plant in Norlina. The third began generating electricity in December from a 40-acre solar farm on the outskirts of Warrenton.
Meanwhile, Granville County commissioners approved the development of a solar farm on a 50-acre site north of Oxford.
In Vance County, the commissioners revised ordinances to accommodate solar farms, and the zoning board has approved a solar farm in the eastern part of the county.
The three counties are positioning themselves on the leading edge of the movement as environmentally friendly jobs and industries become bigger players in the economic development of the area.
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