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The Economic Effects of the Renewable Energy Sector in Imperial County (March 2016)

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

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SAN DIEGO – Utility-scale renewable energy projects built in Imperial County over the past decade have had an economically significant impact on the region. That is the conclusion of a new report released today by the National University System Institute for Policy Research (NUSIPR). Using a combination of industry interviews and public data, NUSIPR found:

             Major policy changes have facilitated industry investment. Federal grant funding, renewable energy generation state mandates and SDG&E’s Sunrise Powerlink have all played an important role in kick-starting renewable energy project construction.

             Renewable energy projects are creating demand for some higher-wage jobs. The construction, operations and maintenance jobs created by projects pay higher than the region’s median hourly wage.

             Projected job impacts from renewable projects need further verification. Econometric modeling projected that 2015 projects had the capacity of hiring 1,963 workers; however more research is required in order to verify these figures.

             Most industry jobs are temporary, not permanent. Still, the high-level of continuous construction activity in Imperial County has sustained demand for thousands of jobs. With stricter renewable state mandates, this trend is likely to continue through the end of the decade.

“The renewable energy sector is a growing part of Imperial County’s economic portfolio,” said Vince Vasquez, NUSIPR Senior Policy Analyst and the author of the report. “Long-term, local officials should consider new ways to not only facilitating more industry investment, but also tracking the jobs and economic activity created as a result of industry projects.”