As the global clean-energy economy continues on a path of increasingly lower costs and accelerated growth, the U.S. remains an integral industry player – a technology developer, a product manufacturer, and a market for clean-energy technology deployment. But after decades without consistent federal support, America’s clean-energy sector has become geographically fragmented, with states and cities acting as the primary drivers of growth. While some regions made early proactive efforts to attract clean-energy companies, jobs, deployment, and investment, others opted to ignore the sector altogether and are only now beginning to realize the economic benefits of clean-energy pursuits.
This report, sponsored by the Portland Development Commission and Business Oregon, two key economic development agencies within the state, evaluates Oregon’s standing in the U.S. clean-energy economy. The report leverages data from Clean Edge’s 2011 State Clean Energy Leadership Index, a subscription-based research service that provides a unique perspective of U.S. clean-energy activity by aggregating and analyzing industry datasets from a variety of public, private, and Clean Edge sources. The index produces annual comprehensive performance scores and rankings for all 50 U.S. states based on activity in three key clean-energy categories: technology, policy, and capital.
The following pages highlight Oregon’s strongest areas of activity and compare the state’s performance against national averages and performances of five other top performing states chosen for their similar characteristics and high frequency of interstate competition: Arizona, California, Colorado, Massachusetts, and Texas. Topics covered include clean electricity, clean transportation, energy intelligence (green building, smart grid, etc.), financial capital, workforce and innovation, and policy structure.
Oregon’s robust industry presence earned it a second-place ranking in the 2011 State Clean Energy Leadership Index. Trailing only California’s overall score of 95.3 (out of 100), Oregon’s score of 79.4 was enough to beat out the next three top performers Massachusetts, New York, and Colorado. Of the states compared against Oregon in this report, California scored highest, followed by Massachusetts at 71.8 (third place), Colorado with 60.2 (fifth), Texas at 47.6 (18th), and finally Arizona at 40.7 (24th). With only six states earning scores higher than 60 and a median U.S. score of 40.4, results of the State Clean Energy Leadership Index indicate that while examples of clean-energy activity can be found in every corner of the nation, a clear top tier of states exhibits leadership across a wide variety of clean-energy sectors and activities.
Oregon’s significant technology deployment, supportive government policies, and successful track record of capital attraction and job creation have given the state a prominent standing in the U.S. clean-energy industry. But with increased domestic and foreign industry competition, and an overall economic climate that has left most states constrained for capital, business as usual will not guarantee Oregon a lasting competitive edge. This report aims to examine Oregon’s successes, compare its performance against other leading states, and uncover lessons which will enable Oregon to continue its leadership into the next era of clean energy.
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