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Louisiana ranks in top 10 for first quarter clean energy jobs

28th May 2014   ·   0 Comments

By April Siese
Contributing Writer

Louisiana ranks in the top ten of clean energy job announcements for the first quarter of the year, according to a recent report put out by Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2). A recent announcement from composite rail tie company IntegriCo Composites worked heavily in the state’s favor. IntegriCo plans to add over 600 jobs with the opening of a rail tie facility in Springhill as well as the relocation of corporate facilities.

Though the company is primarily based in Texas, it nonetheless chose Louisiana after much consideration for its future plans. IntegriCo has already invested $20 million in the state, even going so far as to move their corporate headquarters to Webster Parish, a positive sign in regards to green job growth. Commercial operations are set to open late this year, with hiring occurring in October.

IntegriCo makes a case for ever-expanding green opportunities in the south, though Texas, Missouri, and Kansas act as the only other southern states on E2’s first quarter list. A majority of clean energy opportunities continue to come out of western states, including Hawaii, Arizona, and California, which many consider the epicenter of clean energy. California continually ranks number one across the board for energy policies, opportunities, and output.

Much has changed in terms of green job opportunities in Louisiana, however. Though oil companies still tend to reign supreme regarding energy output and infrastructure, a clean energy report from Brookings cites biofuels and biomass as one of the fastest growing facets of green careers in the state. Slowly but surely, job growth continues on the upward swing, though clean energy jobs make up less than two percent of the state’s economy. As of just three years ago, there are approximately 44,373 clean energy jobs in the state.

The clean energy jobs that are available offer competitive pay and, on average, a salary nearly $4,000 higher than the average Louisiana career requiring comparable experience and education. Workers earn an average of $36,493 in the clean energy industry in job fields as diverse as public transit and organic food and farming. IntegriCo’s salaries are comparable to that number, offering up an average salary of $35,000 in addition to offering benefits.

In regards to technology, policy, and general clean energy leadership, Louisiana is still ranked on the lower end of the spectrum. Clean Edge’s US Clean Tech Leadership Index from 2013 has the state at an overall ranking of 44th, with its lack of advancements in technology putting the state at 48th in that category and its environmental policies placing it right around the middle at 32nd.

IntegriCo’s faith in the area may soon usher in more clean energy companies to stake their claims on a state with untapped potential. According to E2, though Louisiana is only generating 73 megawatt hours of renewable energy, it has the opportunity and the eventual ability to generate up to 5,885,421 gigawatt hours. That includes the potential for hydropower, enhanced geothermal systems, biopower and even offshore wind power, as Louisiana is one of the few states to be eligible to harness offshore opportunities.

This article originally published in the May 26, 2014 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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