CHARLESTON — Congress is preparing to vote on a sweeping spending program designed to accelerate the nation’s transition to and create thousands of clean energy jobs.
A new report suggests West Virginia has a lot of catching up to do in this category.
The report from Environmental Entrepreneurs, a nonpartisan group of business leaders and investors, found West Virginia had the third-lowest share of its workforce employed in clean energy in 2021.
West Virginia’s clip of 1.4% was higher than that of New Jersey and Oklahoma, according to the seventh annual Clean Jobs America report produced by Environmental Entrepreneurs based on the US Energy and Employment Jobs Report. West Virginia had 9,540 clean energy jobs, more than just three other states (North Dakota, Wyoming, and Alaska).
West Virginia should learn by the end of next month when an influx of at least 350 clean energy jobs eagerly awaited by the White House and West Virginia leaders will be located in the state.
Sparkz, a California-based battery supply startup, will announce the location of its West Virginia plant by the end of September, company spokesman Paul Tencher told HD Media on Tuesday.
Sparkz announced in March that the company would build a battery factory at an unspecified location in West Virginia that would employ at least 350 people.
Sparkz CEO Sanjiv Malhotra said during a press conference at the Robert C. Byrd Institute at Marshall University in South Charleston alongside Department of Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm and Senator Joe Manchin, DW.Va., that its mission is to help build a battery supply independent of Chinese sourced materials as lithium batteries become increasingly vital to commercial markets.
Malhotra said in March that Sparkz would announce the plant site by April, but Tencher said in May that Sparkz was still working to “find the perfect location to build and expand.”
“No problems or obstacles,” Tencher said in an email Wednesday. “Just a process to follow, and we expect it to be completed in September.”
Sparkz said he would recruit and train displaced miners to work at the plant in partnership with United Mine Workers of America.
The initial workforce of 350 could be increased tenfold if the factory can ramp up production, Malhotra said – a goal he said his company would miss if it couldn’t provide manufacturing training. high precision batteries for workers.
Sparkz is excited about the climate, health and fiscal budget package championed by Manchin and moving closer to a vote in the Senate, Tencher said, predicting that the private market incentives included in the Inflation Reduction Act would create new customers for “our American-made energy”. solution.”
The Cut Inflation Act, which includes $369 billion in clean energy and climate spending, would advance climate technology and create jobs for West Virginians, Tencher said.
The measure includes $60 billion for domestic clean energy manufacturing, including $30 billion in production tax credits for solar panels, wind turbines, batteries and critical mineral processing.
Many of the Inflation Reduction Act tax incentives encourage the location of new facilities in coal and power communities.
The bill would extend for five years a tax credit on the current production of electricity produced from renewable resources for facilities whose construction begins before 2025. The credit rate would be increased by 10% for any facility in a census tract or adjacent census tract in which a coal mine has been closed since 2000 or a coal-fired electric generating unit has been closed since 2010.
Placing an energy property in these same communities would increase an investment tax credit expanded to include energy storage technology, which includes batteries, by 2 percentage points or 10 percentage points if the taxpayer meets the current salary and apprenticeship requirements.
Current wage laws require that wages for construction workers on public works projects reflect area wages for similar jobs.
The taxpayer and any contractor or subcontractor who employs four or more workers to carry out the construction of a qualifying project must employ at least one qualified apprentice to carry out the work.
United Mine Workers of America International President Cecil Roberts has come out in support of the Cut Inflation Act, predicting that extending tax credits to manufacturers of renewable energy supply chains who build factories in the coalfields will help create good jobs in these communities.
Amanda Woodrum, a senior fellow at Policy Matters Ohio, a progressive nonprofit think tank, warned on a Tuesday call among members of the ReImagine Appalachia coalition of environmental and community organizations that tax credits could have unintended negative effects if not implemented properly.
“One of our biggest concerns with tax-incentive driven economic development is that it often relies heavily on recruiting massive companies (with) profit margins that can actually take advantage of these kinds of tax credits. “said Woodrum.
But Woodrum added that the Cut Inflation Act allows small businesses to capitalize on the investments it allows.
Small Business Majority, a national organization for small businesses, last week submitted a letter to congressional leaders supporting the bill, saying it would help level the playing field for small businesses by reducing drug costs. prescription, which hurts bottom lines for small business owners and imposes a 15% minimum income tax on adjusted financial statements for corporations with earnings over $1 billion.
The BlueGreen Alliance, a national coalition of labor and environmental organizations supporting the Cut Inflation Act, predicted that the bill’s expanded tax credit to support clean energy technology manufacturing would help create more than 220,000 jobs.
Energy Innovation, a San Francisco-based energy and climate policy firm, predicted the bill could create 1.5 million jobs while preventing 3,700 to 3,900 deaths by reducing emissions by 2030.
The Rhodium Group, a nonpartisan research group, projected the new bill would cut net greenhouse gas emissions 31% to 44% below 2005 levels by 2030, surpassing the country’s current track. from 24% to 35%.
Meeting the Rhodium Group’s projection would bring the country closer to the Biden administration’s goal of a 50% to 52% emissions cut. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says a 43% reduction is needed to limit global warming to around 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
Renewable energy deployment is shaping the country’s energy present, not just its energy future.
Solar, wind and battery storage are expected to more than triple natural gas in generation capacity additions in operation and planned for 2022, according to data released Wednesday by the US Energy Information Administration. Coal-fired plants will account for 76% of retirements this year, followed by natural gas at 12%.
Coal industry voices are speaking out against the bill.
Michelle Bloodworth, president and CEO of America’s Power, a partnership of industries involved in coal-fired electricity generation, predicted that the Cut Inflation Act would speed the shutdown of coal-fired power plants by extending the wind and solar tax credits, a decision she called no longer necessary for wind and solar expansion.
West Virginia Coal Association President Chris Hamilton has expressed concern about the Cut Inflation Act, saying its embrace of renewables threatens to displace more coal.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., said the full Senate will consider the inflation-cutting act this week.
Clean energy jobs are poised to continue growing in the meantime.
Jobs in clean energy and clean transportation grew by more than 5% in 2021, according to analysis of federal employment data by Environmental Entrepreneurs.
Job growth in clean vehicles led the way, increasing by 56% from June 2020 to December 2021.
Sparkz focuses on batteries for both the transportation sector – including agricultural and mining equipment – and energy storage.
“There is clearly a huge demand for electricity, for affordable energy that can be supplied with a combination of generation technologies like solar, wind, etc., as well as storage or batteries,” Malhotra said. in March.