Jun 01, 2013

North Carolina: Energy Sector Creating Employment Boom for Temps

Are you looking for a temporary assignment? Well, there are plenty available and more upcoming in North Carolina!

North Carolina’s emerging energy landscape, solar farms and wind projects are expected to generate several hundred temporary jobs on average over the next several years, according to interviews and studies of North Carolina’s economic potential from energy development.

The state’s energy policy has enabled North Carolina to be the fifth-ranking developer of solar power in the country. A study conducted by RTI International and La Capra Associates found that the policy has been a driver of clean energy development, which in turn has been an important job creator in North Carolina. The study found that the state has reaped $1.7 billion in total economic benefits from the state’s renewable energy standard over the past six years.

Based on current conditions, North Carolina would accommodate 368 wells and an average of 387 jobs per year for the next seven years, as per the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources. The agency says that the jobs would peak at 858. 

North Carolina Governor, Pat McCrory, is pushing to open up coastal waters off the North Carolina Coast for energy exploration. According to McCrory, opening up the Atlantic shores could create up to 140,000 new jobs during the next 20 years.

A report by Mike Walden, an economist at North Carolina State University, says that gas drilling would generate $80 million annually in income. Offshore energy exploration would result in $181 million in annual income, according to Walden’s estimates.

All forms of energy development could result in longer-term indirect economic benefits. These projects tend to generate rental, lease and royalty income for property owners, and tax revenue for local governments. They would also generate spending on equipment, supplies, food and lodging.

Wind Farm Work

A proposed 300-megawatt Desert Wind project in Eastern North Carolina would also follow a similar pattern in terms of economic benefits. According to Paul Copleman, a spokesman for the Iberdrola wind developer, this project would produce similar economic activity as a 304-megawatt wind farm recently completed in Ohio. The $600 million Ohio project had 1,200 workers at peak of the construction with an average of 500-plus workers over an 18-month construction period. A wind farm of that size would require a permanent team of 15 to 20 people for monitoring and maintenance.

What Types of Workers are Needed?

For the solar farm project, at least two-third of the workers - consisting of engineers, mud loggers, drillers, derrick handlers and tool pushers - would come in from outside of the state. There will also be ample work for handymen, electricians, truckers, asphalt pavers, deck hands, surveyors, yard workers and cement-pouring operations. According to Steve Heron, South region exploration manager of Cabot Oil & Gas, a drilling project of that size (368 wells) would require a permanent crew number about 36 people. 

How Much is the Pay?

At Strata Solar, one of the largest solar developers, local residents perform most fieldwork. Workers are trained within a few days and paid $12 per hour on average. 

The company currently has 450 assemblers and installers at various sites, with plans to double the amount of contractors this summer. According to the company spokesman, Blair Schoof, Strata Solar has enough projects upcoming to employ hundreds of workers through 2018. 

At one of the projects under construction, a 5-megawatt solar form, there are about 50 temporary contractors currently working in racking, modeling, panel installation, operating equipment and electrical capacities. Their pay ranges from $9 to $18 per hour based upon responsibility and experience.

“The time for further delay is over. It’s time to get off the sidelines and allow the states to exert the leadership that will create thousands of jobs, reduce America’s dependence on Middle Eastern oil and protect the environment” ~Pat McCrory, Governor of North Carolina