Last week’s announcement that automaker Tesla Motors plans to put more than
1,000 California workers back on the assembly lines at the NUMMI plant is
yet another indicator that the clean tech industry will be a driving force
in California’s economic recovery.
Just a few days earlier, Southern California Edison announced an agreement
to place up to 40 percent of Edison’s massive 250 megawatt solar project on
15 million sq. ft. of rooftops of ProLogis distribution warehouse roofs in
the Inland Empire. That project will put 1,200 to work. The International
Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) is supporting the plan through the
expansion of its solar installation apprentice program.
Meanwhile, Spain’s leading wind company, Power System, S.L.. announced it
will open its U.S. office in San Diego. The reason? "To bring us closer to
our North American customers and enable us to offer our solutions to the
wind turbines and solar power markets in this region," said the company’s
managing director, Jose Manuel Angulo Macias.
These bursts of economic activity are some of the few bright spots in the
California economy — and the sign of many more to come. California now
commands nearly 60 percent of the total amount of venture capital invested
in clean tech in the U.S. The nearly $3 billion is five times more than our
closest competitor, Massachusetts.
Venture capital translates into jobs. According to the Economic Development
Agency, there are more than 500,000 Californians working in clean tech jobs.
Studies show that number will soar to more than 1.2 million by 2020.
California has long been the nation’s cradle of innovation and
entrepreneurship. As the 210,000 gallons of oil gushing into the Gulf remind
us daily, our state needs to maintain its leadership role in creating a
clean energy economy. The Texas oil companies dirty energy proposition will
pull the rug out from these efforts, killing jobs and leaving business more
vulnerable to price spikes and the environmental and health costs of fossil