While my home state may suffer from one of the worst unemployment rates in the nation, still… despite the recession, green means go in Oregon! That’s right, green jobs are red hot here in the Beaver State.
The primary reason why its hip to be green in Oregon is the fact that wind energy and solar are growing at tremendous rates. So much so that the positive renewable energy news here more frequently captures the media attention than dour predictions of the sluggish housing market.
Take Oregon wind energy, to start. Not only are sustained winds frequent and strong enough to turn turbines on wind farms fast enough to generate significant green power, but many potential sites are already close to transmission lines, making grid-tie-in more feasible and less expensive for utilities.
Mike Costanti, principal with Western Community Energy states that the Bend-based company’s development staff will quadruple in size in the coming years, with green jobs in the following: turbine operators, lawyers, permit writers, electrical engineers, structural engineers, and construction workers.
Consider this green nugget: the Oregon Employment Department determined that in 2008, Oregon boasted more than 51,000 green jobs. And, despite the recession, eco-friendly jobs continued to grow at a rate of 14% this year.
Here in Bend, new green jobs are a welcome development! Central Oregon has suffered unemployment rates even higher than the western portion of the state. But Western Community Energy has announced plans to increase its development department staff from 7 to 30 in the next two years. Of course, there is plenty of competition: the company receives 20 resumes a week.
Once these primary jobs are in place, Oregon wind energy will continue to create secondary positions for people that will sell goods or provide services within the industry. As Costani observes:
“The people who made money in the gold rush in California and Alaska weren’t the gold miners,” he said. “It was the people who were selling the shovels.”
Oregon solar energy is equally promising, particularly with respect to green jobs. We’ve posted several times here about the success of PV Powered, a solar inverter manufacturer based in Bend. They’ve added a dozen employees to staff recently, and plan to hire an additional 40 or more by the end of 2010.
PV Powered aspires to eventually be the largest employer in Bend, a city of 80,000. If you are an engineer, technology professional, or are familiar with manufacturing, consider submitting a resume. High-tech industry workers may also find positions with the company, particularly if they are passionate about the field of solar energy. That passion may be the distinguishing factor to help you stand out from the crowd of smart, talented people that are seeking jobs in the solar energy field.
On the solar contractor side, green jobs are also increasing in Oregon. E2 Powered, a Bend solar contractor has seen a significant uptick not only with respect to job applications, but also in solar training programs. Many people who might have earned a living constructing houses are now investing thousands of hours to earn electrical or solar licenses that will allow them to legally contract to install and hook up solar panels.
For people that are interested in increasing energy efficiency, there are plenty of green jobs in that field, as well. Once again, however, prospective employees will need specialized training before they can be hired to conduct energy surveys of buildings to determine areas where energy efficiency can be improved. GreenSavers in Bend, Oregon will hire people with an auditing certification from the Building Performance Institute, and who have completed training from the Oregon Department of Energy and the Energy Trust of Oregon.
This field will continue to grow as people become more aware of ways to cut personal and business energy costs. Even if you do not plan to install solar or wind energy, you can learn how to significantly lower utility bills after an energy audit, and perhaps some retrofitting.
Despite the recession, the timing is right for renewable energy growth in Oregon and across the country. Generous government incentives and tax rebates are encouraging people to go green, and helping defray initial costs of doing so. People are becoming more aware of the benefits of living in an eco-friendly manner and reducing their carbon footprint.
Here in Bend, the area is known for its vast, natural beauty – sparkling rivers, tree-covered mountains and recreational opportunities galore. No wonder its a haven for green jobs, as well!