State policies and programs can support energy employment and economic growth in a number of ways:
They can create a favorable policy environment for the private sector to invest and participate in the energy economy
Market-oriented state energy policies, public-private partnerships, financing and incentive programs, innovation and incubation activities, and state energy planning with broad private sector stakeholder input can help attract and keep businesses (and jobs) in-state, and may speed the establishment of laws, programs and funding for broad-based energy priorities.
- Texas - Clean Energy Incubators
The Texas State Energy Conservation Office’s Clean Energy Incubators program provides support for incubators at public universities in the state, with the goal of promoting clean energy company growth, development, and job creation.
- Hawaii - Renewable Energy Permitting Wizard
In Hawaii, the Renewable Energy Permitting Wizard developed by the State Energy Office provides a online, streamlined tool for renewable energy developers to share information about their projects and receive guidance on the permitting application and approval process. In 2018, the tool was recognized by Pew Charitable Trusts as an innovative state approach helping businesses navigate the oft-complex regulatory compliance process.
They can support fair, inclusive, and equitable access to economic growth in the energy sector
Compared to the overall national workforce, employment in the energy industry is substantially less diverse. State policies and initiatives can help increase the proportion of women, ethnic and racial minorities, and disadvantaged communities benefiting from the growth of high-quality, environmentally-friendly energy jobs, projects, and infrastructure.
- California - Disadvantaged Communities Advisory Group
Guided by its Commitment to Diversity, the California Energy Commission invests in disadvantaged communities, installs energy efficiency and renewable energy in affordable housing projects, participates in tribal consultations on power plant and transmission issues, and develops targeted outreach to inform certified women, minorities, disabled veterans, and gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender businesses of Commission workshops, training, and funding opportunities. In 2017, the California Energy Commission and the Public Utilities Commission established the Disadvantaged Communities Advisory Group, whose Equity Framework includes a recommendation to set tracking and hiring targets for low-income, disadvantaged, and underrepresented populations and to ensure that energy careers offer family-sustaining wages and benefits.
They can support project quality and durability
Project quality is a top priority in the energy sector, where large and critical infrastructure projects (involving pipelines, transmission grid, and transportation corridors, as well as the upgrade of important community assets like schools, hospitals, manufacturing plants, shelters, businesses, and multifamily housing) are common. For this reason, many state energy officials may work with their governors and legislators to develop policies promoting quality installation, quality assurance, and workforce accreditation programs, which create a more highly skilled workforce able to apply their trade across industries and opportunities to increase their economic security and potential.
- NASEO - Supporting Quality Installation of Residential Energy Efficiency Projects
In 2017, NASEO’s Board adopted a resolution “Supporting Quality Installation of Residential Energy Efficiency Projects” to encourage State Energy Offices to inform homeowners of the benefits of using qualified, trained, and accredited professionals to install energy efficiency measures.
- ACCA - Quality Standards
The Air-Conditioning Contractors of America’s have established Quality Standards.
They can identify and create opportunities for workforce training and improvement
Energy markets are constantly evolving due to changing project economics and commodity prices, emerging technologies, new methods of extracting energy resources, and new resources. Market shifts can displace workers for long periods of time. Effective energy policy can help mitigate these effects by identifying new job opportunities and/or working with the private sector and local educational institutions to provide training and skills enhancement that support continued or new employment for energy workers at every level.
- ARC - Appalachian Regional Commission
The Appalachian Regional Commission has worked with state and federal policymakers in the Southeast to identify a number of policy and program strategies that can help communities grappling with declining demand for coal, including expanding both online and ”hands-on” learning, entrepreneurial, STEM, and self-employment opportunities for renewable energy, energy efficiency, and fossil fuel R&D and technology innovation.
- Indiana - Comprehensive Cybersecurity Plan
A particularly pressing challenge currently facing the energy industry is to attract cybersecurity and energy security experts to protect critical energy infrastructure and assets across the electricity, natural gas, petroleum, and energy controls spectrum. The state of Indiana has created an Executive Council on Cybersecurity has led public-private partnerships and dialogues to create a comprehensive cybersecurity plan that, among other priorities, will detail how the state can “ensure a robust workforce and talent pipeline in fields involving cybersecurity.”