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A man in Michigan charges his electric car with power generated from solar panels on the roof of his house and has plenty of energy to spare. Four hundred farmers in rural Texas collectively earn $10 million a year from a wind-turbine project on their land. A solar array installed at a U.S. Air Force base in Nevada saves $1 million per year in energy costs and provides resiliency in an emergency.

Stories from the future? No: These stories and many more are playing out across the country. Families, businesses, local governments, schools, and the military are enjoying the benefits of clean energy technology born of the long tradition of American innovation.

The Energy Foundation’s online 2013 Annual Report, “American Clean Energy Stories,” shares real-life examples of clean-energy advances such as wind and solar power, city-wide LED lights, and electric cars. Since 1991 our grantees have provided education and analysis to advance policies to build vibrant clean energy markets like these.

We tell three stories: energy efficiency, solar, and wind. For each, online visitors can click through pictures and videos from around the country, graphs that show progress, and quotes from local energy leaders.

The Energy Foundation works to build a prosperous and healthy future powered by clean, reliable, and secure sources of energy. A thriving clean energy industry will offer American workers good jobs in viable industries, strengthen our national security, and keep our air and water clean and healthy—for today’s children and future generations.

Our 2013 Annual Report shows why we are optimistic about a clean energy future. Explore the report here.

We are currently looking to fill two positions at the Energy Foundation:

The Vice President, Power Sector will be responsible for leading strategy across multiple program areas, including utility-scale generation, distributed energy resources, energy efficiency, and cross-cutting issues such as new utility business models. In addition to synthesizing strategy across the power sector, the vice president will manage a team of eight staff members, oversee an annual budget of $20-­25 million, and work closely with key funders who share our mission. The position is based in the San Francisco office. Learn more about the position and get details on how to apply.

The Director of Knowledge Systems will be responsible for advancing internal and external knowledge sharing and collaboration and is specifically responsible for knowledge management, institutional technology, and user support functions in the U.S.; and for coordinating and supporting similar efforts in China. Specific duties include a combination of direct responsibility, oversight, and collaboration. The director will be directly responsible for selecting, developing, and documenting appropriate platforms for content life cycle management; project management; internal and external collaboration; grantee and donor relation management; and ensuring integration with finance, grants, and human resource systems. Learn more about the position and get details on how to apply.

 

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The Vice President, Power Sector will be responsible for leading strategy across multiple program areas, including utility-scale generation, distributed energy resources, energy efficiency, and cross-cutting issues such as new utility business models. In addition to synthesizing strategy across the power sector, the vice president will manage a team of eight staff members, oversee an annual budget of $20-­25 million, and work closely with key funders who share our mission. The position is based in the San Francisco office.

Read the full job description and get details on how to apply.

Illinois residents with clean energy jobs

 

The Midwest is a leader in energy efficiency and renewable energy, a subject covered in last year’s Energy Foundation annual report.

A new report called Clean Jobs Illinois—which presents findings of the first comprehensive survey of Illinois’ clean energy industry—shines a light on the industry’s job-creation benefits.

The survey found that 96,875 people currently work in the clean energy sector of Illinois’ economy and the numbers are projected to grow by 9 percent in 2014. Clean energy jobs are defined as those pertaining to energy efficiency, renewable energy, electric or hybrid vehicles, and greenhouse gas management. The report includes stories about Illinois professionals working in areas including building efficiency, advanced battery manufacturing, wind energy, smart grid meters and biofuels.

BW Research Partnership, a national leader in workforce and economic development research, conducted the Clean Jobs Illinois survey. More findings:

  • Energy Efficiency is the primary focus of 62 percent of Illinois clean energy businesses. Other sectors include renewable energy (28 percent), alternative transportation (6 percent), greenhouse gas management (1 percent) and “other” (12 percent).
  • Firms working on hybrid and electric vehicles are the fastest growing sector of Illinois’ clean energy economy. While these businesses currently make up only 6 percent of Illinois clean energy companies, the sub-sector expects to grow by 10.5 percent in 2014.
  • Illinois’ clean energy sector offers opportunity for qualified workers. The top job categories of clean energy jobs are engineering and research (21 percent), installation and maintenance (30 percent) and professional services (21 percent). Companies reported that they have difficulty hiring qualified engineers (software and mechanical), welders and installers.
  • Businesses reported that Illinois’ public policies affect their ability to grow. Maintaining a strong Renewable Portfolio Standard was a top concern for Illinois clean energy firms.

A new interactive website showcases the survey results and will serve as an educational resource about clean energy jobs in Illinois: www.CleanJobsIllinois.com.

The survey was commissioned and developed by Clean Energy Trust in partnership with Environmental Entrepreneurs, The Environmental Law & Policy Center and The Natural Resources Defense Council. Advanced Energy Economy, the Joyce Foundation, and the Energy Foundation provided funding.

We are pleased to announce that Stephen Harper, Global Director of Environment and Energy Policy at Intel Corporation, has joined the Energy Foundation’s board of directors.

Stephen’s experience in shaping environmental, energy, and sustainability strategies for companies and government agencies will be valuable to inform Energy Foundation strategies.

“Our education and analysis work to build big markets for clean energy technology requires leadership in both the public and private sectors,” said Eric Heitz, Energy Foundation CEO and Co-founder. “Stephen’s experience and guidance on all of these fronts will help us achieve our mission to promote reliable and affordable renewable energy and energy efficiency.”

In the U.S., Stephen recently led Intel’s release of its updated climate policy statement, which included an endorsement of controlling carbon emissions from existing power plants. In China, he’s been exploring ways to green supply chains, alongside other leading companies like Apple and Walmart.

Outside Intel, Stephen serves on the board of both the Center for Environmental Policy at American University and the Chesapeake Conservancy. Prior to joining Intel he served in senior positions at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, ICF Consulting, and the California State Coastal Conservancy.

Learn about other Energy Foundation board members here.

The Energy Foundation is taking applications for three positions:

Program Director, Power Sector

We seek an expert to lead grantmaking on our utility-scale renewable energy and distributed-energy resources initiatives to fill our Program Director, Power Sector position. We also seek expertise on areas such as new regulatory and utility business models and innovative approaches to finance of renewables projects. Read more and download a PDF of the job description here.

Communications Director

The Communications Director will design and lead communications strategies that amplify these facts in ways that promote energy and climate action in the U.S. Strategies will be developed through collaboration with top experts, grantees, funding partners and foundation staff. Strategies will be executed through a combination of organizational grants, consultant contracts, and collaboration with funding partners and others aligned with the communications strategy. The director is an integral part of the Energy Foundation leadership team. Read more and download a PDF of the job description here.

California Program Director

The Energy Foundation seeks a California Program Director to manage its clean energy and climate campaign investments in the state. Candidates will have deep issue campaign experience in California, familiarity with state policy and politics, and demonstrated skill working with diverse stakeholders outside the environmental community. Read more and download a PDF of the job description here.

The last two positions are part of our Public Engagement Program team.

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Game‐changing new technologies; consumer demand for cleaner, more efficient energy; an aging and increasingly obsolete grid; dramatic reduction in the cost of renewable sources of energy: These are among the many forces radically reshaping America’s electricity sector. A new era is dawning, and analysts agree we are at a pivotal moment in America’s energy history. Decisions and investments made in the next decade will shape the course of the power industry, the economy and public health for decades to come.

Will legal, economic, and regulatory structures designed for the last century continue to thwart innovation and constrain consumer demand? Will $100 billion per year in needed infrastructure investments lock in business as usual, or foster innovation?

America’s Power Plan (APP)—a toolkit for state and local decision-makers developed by over 150 of the nation’s top energy experts—is the first national effort to take a comprehensive look at the challenges faced by the electric power system and outline potential policy and market design solutions.

Launched in late 2013, APP and its expert advisers offer innovative recommendations on utility business models, finance, distributed generation, distributed energy sources, market design, transmission, and siting. Their ideas have sparked discussions among state, county, and municipal decision-makers—those who know best how to tailor the recommendations for local realities.

Andy Karsner, CEO of Manifest Energy and former Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy under President George W. Bush, says APP “started an important and timely discussion, mapping a path forward that should be considered by every serious utility executive and PUC commissioner across the country.”

The project was inspired by a number of studies that show a high-renewable future is technically feasible, and by real-world experience in parts of the world that are already seeing high levels of wind and solar.

To learn more about APP, visit the website, follow the APP blog or tweets, ask the experts questions, or sign up for the newsletter.

Man installing solar panels

The U.S. solar industry employed 142,698 Americans in 2013, according to The Solar Foundation’s four annual National Jobs Solar Census. The figure includes 23,683 more jobs than the previous year, or a 19.9 percent growth in employment. That means solar employment grew 10 times faster than the national average employment rate of 1.9 percent in the same period.

The Solar Foundation (TSF), an independent nonprofit solar research and education organization. The full report is available at here. In February, TCF will release state-by-state jobs numbers, including a more detailed analysis of the California, Arizona, and Minnesota solar markets.

According to TSF, solar companies report that cost savings are driving their clients’ decision making, as 51.4 percent of customers report going solar to save money, and another 22.9 percent because costs are now competitive with utility rates.

“Tens of thousands of new living-wage jobs have been created over the past year thanks to plunging solar technology costs, increasing consumer demand, and supportive government policies,” said Amit Ronen, director of The George Washington University Solar Institute. “As the nation’s fastest growing energy source, we expect the solar industry will continue to generate robust job growth for at least the next decade.”

TSF points to the following notable findings from the report:

  • Seventy-seven percent of the nearly 24,000 new solar workers since September 2012 are new jobs, rather than existing positions that have added solar responsibilities, representing 18,211 new jobs created.
  • This comparison indicates that since data were collected for Census 2012, one in every 142 new jobs in the U.S. was created by the solar industry, and many more were saved by creating additional work opportunities for existing employees.
  • Installers added the most solar workers over the past year, growing by 22 percent, an increase of 12,500 workers.
  • Solar employment is expected to grow by 15.6 percent over the next 12 months, representing the addition of approximately 22,240 new solar workers. Forty-five percent of all solar establishments expect to add solar employees during this period.
  • Employers from each of the solar industry sectors examined in this study expect significant employment growth over the next 12 months, with nearly all of them projecting percentage job growth in the double-digits.
  • Approximately 91 percent of those who meet our definition of a “solar worker” (those workers who spend at least 50 percent of their time supporting solar-related activities) spent 100 percent of their time working on solar.
  • Wages paid by solar firms are competitive, with the average solar installer earning between $20 (median) and $23.63 (mean) per hour, which is comparable to wages paid to skilled electricians and plumbers and higher than average rates for roofers and construction workers. Production and assembly workers earn slightly less, averaging $15 (median) to $18.23 (mean) per hour, slightly more than the national average for electronic equipment assemblers.
  • The solar industry is a strong employer of veterans of the U.S. Armed Services, who constitute 9.24 percent of all solar workers—compared with 7.57 percent in the national economy. Solar employs a slightly larger proportion of Latino/Hispanic and Asian/Pacific Islander workers than the overall economy.

The National Solar Jobs Census 2013 was conducted by TSF and BW Research Partnership with support from the GW Solar Institute. The report, derived from data collected from more than 2,081 solar firms, measured employment growth in the solar industry between September 2012 and November 2013. The margin of error of this data set is +/-1.3 percent, significantly lower than any similar national industry study.

The Energy Foundation would like to correct the record concerning its funding of a small number of not-for-profit organizations in Alabama that are working to advance competitive markets and build a strong economy based on clean, affordable, and secure sources of energy.

Information disseminated by the Alabama Coal Association and, more recently, postcards mailed by the Free Market Alliance, imply that, with help from President Obama and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, we have “transferred” $2.7 million to four organizations in Alabama.

In fact, we are nonpartisan and pragmatic. And the transfers are grants, which we invite everyone to view in our grants database or in our annual Form 990s. We also invite you to learn more about our history and our programs, and to read the stories about some of our grantees—business leaders, veterans, and energy efficiency advocates.

The grants they mention were made over a three-year period and went to groups around the Southeast (not just Alabama), and funded a wide range of clean-energy work.

For those who are learning about us for the first time, you should know that since 1991 we’ve been working to build big markets for new energy technology—not just wind turbines and solar panels, but cars that go farther on a gallon of gas with less pollution, efficient refrigerators that save consumers money, and buildings that lower heating and cooling bills.

Our vision is for a healthy future powered by clean, affordable, and reliable sources of energy. We know that a vibrant, clean energy economy will strengthen our national security and offer American workers good jobs in thriving industries. This vision will help avert climate change and, most importantly, it will keep our air and water clean for today’s children—and future generations.

To achieve this mission, we fund diverse organizations all around the country—military, faith, labor, health, environmental groups and others. They include nonprofit organizations in Alabama and throughout the Southeast who, like us, want competitive markets, technology innovation, and a prosperous and healthy clean-energy future for their children and grandchildren.

Worker with solar panels

A recent solar industry report found a record level—4.2 gigawatts—of photovoltaic (PV) installations in the U.S. in 2013, making the U.S. the number two solar market behind China.  The U.S. market has grown 15 percent since 2012.

The report, by NPD Solarbuzz, also shows that North Carolina rose into the number two spot nationally (behind California) in 2013, up three spots from 2012. According to an article in the Duke University Chronicle, Larry Shirley, the director of operations and planning at the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, “attributes North Carolina’s ascension to solar-friendly policies.

“That seemed to ignite solar within the state,” the Chronicle quotes Shirley as saying. He also said the 35 percent state solar tax credit is “a juicy business incentive.”

Other states in the top 10 are Arizona, New Jersey, Texas, Massachusetts, Hawaii, New Mexico, Nevada, and New York.