North Carolina renewable energy and energy efficiency businesses have created the equivalent of 34,000 full-time jobs and generate $6.4 billion a year in revenue, an industry group says.
Energy efficiency led the way, the North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association said in an annual report, accounting for about half the jobs and $2.5 billion of revenue in 2016. The solar sector ranked second-highest in earnings, with $1.4 billion in revenue.
Since 2007, “the clean energy industry has been one of the few sectors to achieve double-digit job growth throughout the recession and each year since, while steadily reducing costs and slowing the rise in the rates charged by our state’s electric utilities,” said executive director Ivan Urlaub.
The association has produced the report each year since 2008, a year after North Carolina’s legislature ordered electric utilities to include renewable energy and energy efficiency in their mixes of power generation. That law, coupled with now-expired state tax credits and continuing federal credits, launched the industry in the state.
A mark of the industry’s resilience, the association said, is that it has continued to grow despite uncertainty such as conservative political opposition to the policies that launched it.
North Carolina added the equivalent of more than 8,000 full-time jobs in 2016, a 31 percent increase from the previous year, the report said. Among sectors with marked revenue increases: geothermal, or energy derived from the earth’s heat, with $275 million, and fuel cells with $92 million.
The biomass and biofuels sector, which taps the energy in organic fuels such as wood scraps, increased jobs to 5,619 in 2016 compared to 1,245 a year earlier.