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Full steam ahead for green jobs in O.C

County, however, trails behind other California counties in use of renewable energy.

March 12, 2010|By Mike Reicher

Orange County has added green jobs faster than the state during recent years, but its use of renewable energy ranks behind other California counties, a new report shows.

The 2010 Orange County Community Indicators, an annual study by the county government, reviewed for the first time measures in “sustainability” — those that consider the “interconnections between economic, environmental and social factors.”

These factors have been cited by the Obama administration and others as critical for the economic success of the U.S. and the survival of the environment.

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“Companies realize that their future depends on this,” said Helen Eckmann, a professor of sustainability at Chapman’s Brandman University MBA program.

Employment in 15 industries that comprise the cleantech, or green jobs sector, grew by 50% in Orange County between 1995 and 2008, faster than the California average of 36%, according to the report.

These are jobs that might specialize in green building, recycling or hybrid vehicle production, and others that help slow global warming.

A local example is T3 Motion, a Costa Mesa manufacturer of electric vehicles, whose stand-up and sit-down vehicles appear to be growing in popularity with law enforcement agencies as a green-friendly and alternative mode of transportation.

The report also found that the county gets a smaller percentage of its electricity from renewable sources — such as wind, solar and hydroelectric — compared to similar counties in the state.

“The government in Orange County has not made a strong push to get renewable energy in Orange County,” said Gregory Trimarche, the co-chairman of CleanTech O.C., a new trade group for the sector. “We’re working on it.”

Trimarche anticipates that the fastest cleantech sector growth will be in hybrid and electric vehicles — companies such as Fisker Automotive — advanced battery technologies and jobs that specialize in energy conservation.

Job growth in the area of green transportation has been the county’s fastest-growing green sector, according to the report.

It started with hardly any jobs in 1995 and now has more than 1,000 jobs.

Green transportation was also the fastest growing green industry for California, but statewide growth was considerably smaller, at 152% during that time period.

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