Republicans Beat Democrats in Green Arena

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- There is a belief in political circles that Democrats love the renewable energy business while Republicans hate it. Certainly there is rhetoric to that effect.

But let's look at the record.

DBL Investors, called by GigaOM "the most successful greentech VC you've never heard of," recently looked at green job numbers and found that the industries are, in fact, doing better in Republican "red" states than in Democratic "blue" ones.

Clean-tech employment nearly doubled in Alaska during the last decade, and the job count in oil-rich North Dakota was up by 58%. Alaska had the highest percentage of its workers involved in clean-tech employment by 2010, but Arkansas, Tennessee and South Carolina also ranked high. Wyoming has a fast-growing green job count.

The state with the third-highest number of clean tech jobs? Texas.

Georgia, where I live, is also in the top 10. Georgia Power, which is building a huge new nuclear power plant along the Savannah River, is nevertheless committed to add 210 MW of additional solar power to its grid over the next three years . Projects could be as large as 1 MW in size. The welcome mat is out here for solar developers.

The DBL report also highlights some "green job champions" among the nation's Republican governors.

Former Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour found $75 million in incentives for CaliSolar, $100 million for a biofuels company named Virdia, and gave a $75 million loan to solar panel start-up Stion. Perhaps the most interesting biofuels operation in the country, the Khosla Ventures-backed KiOR, is now preparing to open its first fuel factory in Columbus, Miss., with wood scraps as a feedstock, writes GigaOM.

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback, a 2008 Republican presidential candidate, has been bucking the political winds there to become a staunch advocate for wind energy. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who keynoted Gov. Romney's recent convention, signed a law this summer to double the amount of solar power generation there.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal offers a 50% state tax credit on new solar installations, and Texas Governor Rick Perry has also been a strong backer of wind energy, the report notes.

In 2010, there were 2.675 million clean-tech jobs in the U.S., representing over 2% of the workforce, according to the DBL report. The Bureau of Labor Statistics maintains a "Green Goods and Services" database, last updated in March, and the numbers are continuing to grow.

There are three steps to bringing in renewable energy production. There's the research phase, in which a technology is proven to work. There's the financing phase, in which capital is collected for production. Then there is the production phase, where the action moves to factories, forests and wind fields.

It's here where the Republican champions of green energy have stepped in with a variety of tax incentives and even financing, turning ideas that may come from a Massachusetts lab and are financed by a California funding source into jobs they can crow about come re-election time.

Fact is, renewable energy is no longer a partisan issue. Everyone wants growth, everyone wants jobs and everyone wants that growth in jobs to come in their states. They're also willing to make some dandy deals to get that growth, because the financial bottom line is also their political bottom line.

At the time of publication, the author had no positions in any of the companies mentioned in this article.

This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

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