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Long Island's green work force grows

Long Island’s green work force grows(By Claude Solnik via Long Island Business News)When the Long Island Power

Authority in March chose BP Solar to provide 37 megawatts of photovoltaic

power at Brookhaven National Laboratory, it was good news for solar

advocates. But those in the local solar industry worried the nation’s

biggest ground-mounted solar installation might be built in their backyard

without Long Island labor.BP has since said it expects the project, big enough to power 4,700 homes,

to provide a boost for local solar workers, generating more than 200 jobs

for construction, engineering and electrical work.“Part of the rationale behind this is to help transform the market and

provide clean energy jobs for Long Islanders, while diversifying our energy

portfolio,” LIPA’s Vice President for Environmental Affairs Michael Deering

said. “There will be Long Island jobs associated with this.”Tom Mueller, spokesman for San Francisco-based BP Solar with a

manufacturing facility in Fredericksburg, Va., said construction could

start in early 2010 for the project that would go online in May 2011.Neil MacDonald, a partner at William Collins, an architectural firm in

Setauket, hopes BP goes local when it goes solar, further boosting the

green economy.“It remains to be seen to what extent they’re going to be using local

resources to staff that project,” MacDonald said. “We’re pushing along that

avenue.”Regardless of how many local jobs the BP project creates, green isn’t just

about environment anymore. It’s becoming a bigger part of the Long Island

economy.Employment engineJust as the Internet in the 1990s created an industry, the environmental

movement is generating thousands of jobs – and a homegrown green

industry.The green economy, although still in its infancy, is employing

more than 750,000 nationwide already, according to Global Insight, a

research firm.The group projects the industry could create between 2.5 million and 4.2

million jobs within a decade.“The potential growth in green jobs is significant in that it could be the

fastest-growing segment of the U.S. economy over the next several decades,”

according to Global Insight’s 2008 report on the green economy.The green industry – which includes jobs related to alternative energy,

energy efficiency and environmental practices – has generated more than

127,000 jobs in renewable power generation, 60,000 in manufacturing and

nearly half a million in engineering, research and consulting, according to

Global Insight. About 85 percent of these jobs are in metropolitan areas,

according to the group.The group estimated about 25,000 green jobs in the New York City area at

its most recent count, the highest concentration in the nation and slightly

more than Washington, D.C.And Global Insight projected that number could easily grow to nearly

200,000 based on energy and environmental trends.Long Island’s green industryLong Island is also growing its own green work force, although the industry

is in its infancy. Solar energy is catching on, fueled by incentives and

entrepreneurs seeing opportunity.“This started with one or two part-time people,” Deering said of the local

solar industry. “Now we’re upwards of 30 or 40 companies doing this full

time.”Deering said about 99 percent of Long Island’s solar installations are done

by local labor as the area develops energy expertise.“The industry has grown steadily since we started the business,” said Marc

Clejan, co-founder of Southampton-based solar energy installer GreenLogic

Energy. “It’s going from a real specialty niche to a more mainstream

business.”In addition to solar installers, the green industry encompasses energy

consultants, energy auditors and a host of architects, engineers, lawyers

and even accountants who specialize in the economics of alternative energy

and energy efficiency.With this sector’s promise for increased employment, schools offering

environmental education have experienc