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NM Unveils Plan to Create Energy Jobs, VT Claims Green Jobs Victory

September 17, 2015

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez has released the state’s first comprehensive energy plan since 1991. Her administration characterizes the plan as an “all of the above” approach with an emphasis on improving infrastructure, creating new incentives and streamlining regulations. Though the plan does not feature support for energy technology R&D, it prioritizes reducing fresh water consumption and improving workforce training for energy jobs.  In Vermont, a recent report notes that the state has grown clean energy employment by more than 6 percent in the last year.

The New Mexico plan outlines a strategy to leverage the state’s position as the fourth highest net-energy supplier to the United States into new jobs and energy independence. Pillars of the plan include funding for infrastructure projects, such as rail lines and electric transmission, incentives for natural gas, a low-carbon energy portfolio standard and the removal of regulatory barriers.

The rapid development of the state’s oil, natural gas and nuclear energy sectors have left employers in need of workers training in energy fields. The state identifies a number of university programs that can be used as a starting point to grow its training offerings. For example, the San Juan College School of Energy in Farmington has been successful in developing oil and gas industry curriculum, New Mexico Junior College in Hobbs has created a program around uranium enrichment, and Santa Fe Community College has become known for its green energy training programs and certifications. The New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, the University of New Mexico and New Mexico State University have developed similar partnerships with these fields at the graduate engineer level.

Under the state energy plan, attracting and retaining students in these programs is to be a primary mission of the state university system. The state will mount a marketing and information effort targeting high school and college students to clarify pathways into energy careers. New Mexico institutions are also instructed to develop professional energy programs such as oil and gas law certification and a regulatory engineering degree. San Juan College School of Energy will introduce a standardized oil and gas industry certification program.

Read Seizing Our Energy Potential: Creating a More Diverse Economy in New Mexico at: http://www.emnrd.state.nm.us/EnergyPolicy/

While the New Mexico plan mostly continues the state’s emphasis on oil and natural gas, the Vermont report highlights the success the state has had in boosting employment in a diverse set of clean energy fields. The Vermont Department of Public Service’s 2015 report on the state of the clean energy industry and the impact of the Clean Energy Development Fund (CEDF). The CEDF was established in 2005, and used to address clean energy financing gaps, particularly after the 2011 release of the Vermont’s comprehensive energy plan.

A survey conducted in the first quarter of 2015 found that clean energy employment was up 6.2 percent over the same quarter in the previous year. This rate of growth far outpaced the state’s overall employment growth rate of 1.8 percent. Clean energy employment now accounts for 4.8 percent of all employment in the state. Only 3 percent of employers predict layoffs in the coming year, while 30 percent anticipate adding jobs.

About 42 percent of clean energy jobs in the state are in installation, jobs that do not necessarily require a four-year degree. The second largest subset is R&D workers, who are more likely to have an undergraduate or graduate degree. 

When asked what types of support were needed to further boost the growth of the clean energy sector, the two most common responses were: a marketing and advertising campaign to promote clean energy within the state (38.1 percent) and access to training and workforce development resources (37.8 percent).

Read the Vermont Clean Energy 2015 Industry Report at: http://publicservice.vermont.gov/sites/psd/files/Topics/Renewable_Energy/CEDF/Reports/VCEIR%202015%20Final.pdf

New Mexicoenergy