Red States Going Green: Careers in Clean Energy and Green Investment

by ‐ Tags: alternative energy

Climate change is a politically volatile issue, often polarizing the left and right as “believers" and “deniers” respectively. However, recent polls have shown that despite a person’s given stance on the science of climate change, the concept of energy independence through clean energy can line up very well with traditional conservative thought. For instance, there has been a recent explosion of energy saving sentiment in small towns and rural areas of conservative Kansas, including awareness programs for kids, new geothermal and wind energy projects and energy conservation competitions between towns with significant results (up to a 5% decrease). This may be surprising to some, as this trend seems to clash with how conservatives are commonly viewed by liberals, but the phenomenon is real. 

Even in left-leaning Massachusetts, people who are dismissive of climate change are similarly attentive, if not more so, to personal energy conservation measures when than those who are convinced of climate change:

describe the image

Do these sentiments translate to a commitment to clean energy on a larger scale? Are Red States going green?

Green Jobs in the South

As it turns out, the green industry is a major source of growth in the predominantly red state South. In fact, of the 21 states with more than 40,000 green jobs, 7 are in the South. Clean tech investment has been remarkably heavy there, with companies such as Sharp opening its first US solar plant in Memphis Tennessee and Nissan building batteries for all electric automobiles just 200 miles away.

Here are some eye-catching figures: 

Republican States Leading in Wind Energy

Red State Texas leads the Nation in installed wind power capacity with 10,135 Megawatts, beating out wind heavy blue states such as California, Minnesota and Washington by huge margins. Additionally, some red states with high wind power potential but no state-wide renewable energy mandates of their own are producing cheap wind power in order to market it out of state.  For example, Idaho and Wyoming are selling wind energy to California, allowing it to meet its 33% renewable energy mandate—a process that saves Californians money and provides Idaho and Wyoming with a profitable green industry. Green capitalism!

And watch out for Kansas, its wind producing potential is second only to Texas, and the money is coming.

wegowise wind capacity resized 600
Green Building

When it comes to green building however, the strengths we see above is not as apparent among red states. In the map below showcasing green buildings per capita, many of the lightest states are politically conservative:

wegowise green building mapAlthough conservatives may shy away from an Al Gore centric take on energy efficiency, capitalist practicality and a patriotic take on energy independence has given green industry a place  in the red state philosophies and in some cases, has made them national leaders in renewable energy.