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Green Economy Creates Jobs, Says Report

The clean energy push and general "green economy" are creating jobs, but California should modify its related education and training efforts to maximize these benefits, according to a report released Thursday by University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley) researchers.

The study, "California Workforce Education and Training Needs Assessment for Energy Efficiency, Demand Response and Distributed Generation," projects a doubling in energy efficiency investments overall in the state with the result of 211,000 new jobs being created. It forecasts those investments reaching $11.2 billion in 2020, compared with the $6.6 billion recorded at the end of last year.

"The jobs will be distributed throughout the economy, not just in 'green' businesses or occupations," said UC Berkeley's Karen Chapple, a co-author of the report and an associate professor of city/regional planning.

California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) President Michael Peevey said the report not only substantiates that California's clean energy and energy efficiency efforts have had positive economic impact during the past 30 years, it also "provides a glimpse into the future of how California can continue to promote an energy efficient economy."

The study was funded by the state's private-sector energy utility ratepayers under the auspices of the CPUC.

UC Berkeley's Carol Zabin, also a co-author of the study, stressed that the new report offers what she considers "the first compressive analysis" of job impacts and work force preparation issues surrounding the state and federal policies and programs established to improve energy efficiency in homes and businesses.

The report reviewed and analyzed more than 1,000 training programs throughout the state offered in four-year colleges, community colleges, state-certified apprenticeship programs, utility training centers, private training organizations and high school career technical programs. Shortages of jobs for graduates of these programs is a real problem, the report indicated.

Given the challenges for jobs, wage levels and other career opportunities, the report makes several recommendations to state officials:

"California's energy efficiency policies will provide a significant number of jobs in an era of persistent high unemployment, volatile oil prices and economic instability," Zabin said.

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