Raleigh, NC -- Going green could bring some new jobs to North Carolina.
That was the conclusion of a report presented Tuesday to a legislative panel, which heard that the state could net 300,000 more jobs by 2020 by implementing energy efficiency programs and producing more renewable energy.
The preliminary report is an attempt to quantify the economic result of more than 30 policy options suggested by an advisory committee established to help lawmakers develop a global warming response plan. All the recommendations of the Climate Action Plan Advisory Group, if approved, would return the state to 1990 levels of greenhouse gas emissions within 13 years.
The report, based on an economic model the basis of which has been used by several other states, found that following the recommendations would create in North Carolina about 328,000 cumulative annual net jobs by 2020 and generate $14.2 billion in cumulative income.
But that's just a small percentage of the 5 million jobs now in North Carolina that generate $250 billion in income, said David Ponder, an Appalachian State University graduate research assistant and report co-author.
"We see mildly positive impact, but in terms of the scale of the economy, these are not earth-shattering figures," Ponder told the Legislative Commission on Global Climate Change. The commission is meeting to recommend to the General Assembly whether to create more policies to lower emissions.
The General Assembly this year ordered electric utilities to generate 12.5 percent of their power from alternative energy sources or through energy savings by 2021.
Many of the new jobs would come from within the agribusiness and waste industries, through such recommendations as producing more ethanol and biodiesel for fuel and trapping gas from animal manure and landfills to generate electricity, the report said.
State Sen. Robert Pittenger, R-Mecklenburg, a critic of global warming policies that he says would stifle the nation's economy, questioned the value of the report, given that it was based on the advisory group's recommendations.
Pittenger and the conservative-leaning John Locke Foundation held a news conference before Tuesday's meeting to argue the outside consultant that helped form the advisory group's suggestions used "seriously flawed" methods.
Tom Peterson, executive director of Center for Climate Strategies, the outside consultant, defended its work while presenting the recommendations to the legislative commission. He pointed out that the center's staff has much experience in economics.