Massachusetts Clean Energy Companies Worry Over Romney’s Plan

By Pamela Cyran 8-30-2012

Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney could be hurting job creation. At least that’s what clean energy entrepreneurs in Massachusetts are saying.

Romney plans to introduce three million new jobs with his proposed energy plan. However, clean energy entrepreneurs believe his plan will cause a massive decrease of jobs in their sector.

Romney revealed his energy plan last Thursday, Aug. 23, in Hobbs, New Mexico. Highlights of the plan include: Giving the states permitting responsibility over federal land and waters, establishing an energy partnership with Canada and Mexico, promoting on and offshore drilling and authorizing a seismic study to get an accurate measure of the world’s oil and exactly how much of it we have in reserve.

Jason Ethier, a founder and CEO of Dynamo Micropower in Boston, fears this plan will have a negative impact in the job market because it is so heavily focused on the oil industry.

“If you look at the S & P 500, and look at those companies in the oil and gas industries and divide the total revenues by the total number of employers they have, it’s a ridiculously large number,” he said.

Ethier doesn’t consider oil and gas industries very labor intensive.

The 2012 Massachusetts Clean Energy Industry Report claims clean energy employment has grown by 11.2 percent since 2011. The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center conducted the study and found that’s nearly 10 times faster than the overall 1.2 percent growth rate among all industries in the Commonwealth over the same period.

Ethier believes Romney’s plan to cut loan guarantees for new clean energy companies will lead to a decrease in creative job growth.

“Renewable technologies, because they’re in development, they create higher valued jobs, more creative jobs, and are more nationally distributed, so you’re not just focused on places where oil is, because you can build a clean energy business anywhere you need energy,” he said.

Romney ultimately wants to achieve North American energy independence by 2020, but Ethier doesn’t think this is possible without investing in start-up clean energy companies.

“You’re focusing all your assets into one basket, and just like we learned in basic home-ed, you want to diversify your portfolio, and in this case it’s an energy portfolio,” he said.

Ethier continues on to say, “The only way you really become independent is by having energy that’s produced on-site that’s independent of other global forces. That means having wind power. That means having solar power on site.”

Vsevolod Tsodokov, CEO of MetaComb – a clean tech company in Cambridge, agrees with Ethier.

MetaComb produces a strong and insulating multi-functional building material out of cardboard.

Tsodokov believes bringing his products into the marketplace improves efficiency with manufacturing shipment and waste management.

“I think that supporting manufacturers is the right way to go. It’s probably the one way we can assure that our economy will keep going up as if we produce things. And we need to produce things other than oil and gas,” said Tsodokov. “I can’t think of a more important thing to be emphasized by either candidate.”

Romney has said his plan will introduce one million new jobs in manufacturing.