Thursday, June 11, 2009

Pittsburgh Region Leads All U.S. Metro Areas in Overall Energy Industry Rankings, Study Says

Pittsburgh is the only U.S. metro area to rank in the Top 25 by employment in each of the major energy sectors - cleaner coal, natural gas, nuclear, solar, wind, transmission & distribution components and intelligent building tech, according to a study by the Allegheny Conference on Community Development and obtained by GlobalPittsburgh.

More than 700 firms are engaged in extracting, delivering and designing more innovative and environmentally friendly ways of producing and consuming energy. Those firms employ more than 105,000 people and contribute more than 10 percent to the gross regional product, according to the ACCD report prepared for the organization's recent Regional Investors Council Summit.

After ranking the Top 25 metropolitan areas by emloyment in each of the seven energy sectors, the ACCD determined that Pittsburgh is the only region that ranks in the Top 25 across all sectors of the energy economy.

"This means that our energy economy is diversified," the report stated. "It is also integrated from our natural resource base through the supply chain of traditional, alternative and systems industries. And it is dynamic; new jobs are being created today in our region's energy economy, and even more opportunities exist tomorrow from our innovations."

The ACCD determined that the Pittsburgh region demonstrates current strengths in the coal, nuclear, transmission & distribution, and green building technologies, and shows strong potential growth opportunities in the solar and wind technology areas.

The region is home to the National Energy Technology Laboratory, located on Cochran's Mill Road, the country's only fossil fuel national research lab, which receives more than $600 million per year in funding. Other research & development goes on in the private sector at Consol Energy in South Hills and at the region's world-class academic institutions - the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University and Penn State University.

On a smaller scale, public and private research into alternative energy sources is under way in the region, and businesses continue to spring up.

For example, Solar Power Industries Inc. of Rostraver recently announced that it is leasing part of Sony Corp.'s plant in Westmoreland County to expand its production capabilities and tap into growing demand for alternative energy generation sources.

The Allegheny Conference has indicated that it will sharpen its focus on the energy sector "to leverage the most from this industry toward the duel end goals of economic prosperity and environmental sustainability."

- Thomas Buell, Jr.

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