Two recent news items - one an announcement by a manufacturing plant in Fresno and the other a story in the San Luis Obispo newspaper - underline the impact of the emerging solar energy industry in Central California and the western United States. They also help fulfill the promise of green jobs.
First was this: PPG Industries said it will make components for the solar power industry at its Fresno plant. The company said it is the only maker of Solarphire PV glass on the West Coast, which will enhance its ability to serve an industry that is expected to surge in the Southwest and Asia - two regions that have strong potential for new solar projects.
Then there was this: About 400 workers are employed at two solar-power construction sites just west of the San Joaquin Valley. The construction is expected to take about three years.
Read more here and here.
While PPG officials say the current expansion of capacity won't add any jobs to the Fresno plant, who is to say that won't change if solar gains in popularity? PPG is smart to carve out a niche.
Meanwhile, the solar construction jobs in the Carrizo Plain of San Luis Obispo County could be the first of many more in the area. Dozens of other proposals - some of them pretty substantial (check this out) have been approved or are awaiting approval - in Fresno, Kings, Tulare and Kern counties, in addition to those under way in San Luis Obispo County.
Those proposals combined with projects earmarked for the Southern California desert (think industrial revolution!) could provide construction jobs for the next several years. They also help California meet or exceed its ambitious 33 percent renewables mandate.
Of course, it is unlikely that all of the proposed projects will be approved. Financing issues, conflicts with farming groups and habitat/environmental concerns will probably knock some out, but I wonder if green energy could become a new industry in the Valley and beyond.