This report focuses on the economic activities associated with clean energy and energy efficiency in the five states we call the Rocky Mountain Energy Producers—Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming—because these energy-related activities are now among the strongest segments of the green economy and show promise during challenging economic times. Competitiveness in an investment climate marked by a focus on energy innovation stems hinges on demonstrated policy commitment to diversifying energy sources and curbing inefficient energy consumption. This report assesses progress among the Rocky Mountain Energy Producers, focusing on indicators of green economic success as well as policy leadership.
In most cases, green jobs have demonstrated a rate of growth significantly in excess of growth in total employment. In New Mexico, for example, while the number of total jobs in 2007 was 13 percent greater than in 1995, green jobs were 62 percent more numerous. Taking the study region as a whole, from 1995 to 2007 overall job growth across the economy of the five states was 19 percent, while job growth in the core green economy was 30 percent. Nationwide, overall jobs grew by ten percent, compared to green job growth of 18 percent from 1995 to 2007.
In 2008, the Rocky Mountain Energy Producers attracted more than half-a-billion dollars in clean energy-oriented venture capital, a ten-fold increase compared to 2000 levels. Competitive stimulus funding awarded through the Department of Energy totaled nearly $1 billion, with Colorado and New Mexico together claiming 70 percent of the region’s total, in addition to the millions of federal stimulus dollars delivered through formula-based grants.
The current and expected future growth in clean energy and efficiency means that the Rocky Mountain Energy Producers are experiencing an energy transition. Thanks to an abundance of fossil fuel resources, the five states already have major roles in the current system of energy production in the United States. Remarkably, these same states have equally striking command over a host of renewable energy resources. In addition, some of the states contain other assets— skilled workforces, leading public and private research institutions, and supportive state and local governments—necessary to encourage renewable energy generation and efficiency. While traditional fossil fuels will remain the primary form of energy production, expanding the overall energy portfolio to include efficiency and diversity in energy sources is a national and international priority. Action will be rewarded with public and private investment, especially as the energy transition moves forward over the next two to three decades.