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California’s Dominance of U.S. Electric Transportation Supply Chain Puts State in Position for Further Workforce Gains

Posted by Monique Hanis on Apr 22, 2021

New report shows California’s electric transportation-related workforce expected to nearly double by 2024; already 3,900 companies across the state  are involved in electric transportation, while related industries with more than half a million workers have an opportunity to quickly retool and retrain to meet market demand for business and job growth.

SACRAMENTO, CA, April 22, 2021 — Today national business group Advanced Energy Economy (AEE) released a report that shows 3,900 electric transportation-related California businesses dispersed across 55 of its 58 counties as of 2019. Employment in electric transportation (ET) is expected to nearly double by 2024 to an estimated 68,000 workers as demand for electric vehicles (EV) and EV charging infrastructure grows.

“California dominates the U.S. electric transportation industry today and stands to make further gains as global and U.S. market demand grows,” said Amisha Rai, managing director at Advanced Energy Economy. “As California seeks to accelerate the transition to electric transportation, this report shows an expanding opportunity not only for the 3,900 state businesses already involved in this dynamic sector, but also for tens of thousands of workers in related industries that can quickly retool and retrain to meet national and global EV demand.”

“California is committed to not only deploying zero emission vehicles, but to developing the necessary supply chain that enables global scale,” said Dee Dee Myers, Senior Advisor and Director of the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz). “AEE’s new report shows the investments California is making, and policies we are implementing, are creating statewide opportunities for economic development and high quality jobs. It re-confirms a core California principle: well-crafted environmental policy creates economic opportunity.”

“With the right policies in place, California’s transition to a fully clean energy transportation system brings tremendous opportunity to spur economic development across every corner of our state. This report demonstrates that with continued investments in zero-emissions vehicles, we can train thousands of workers in industries that will make our air cleaner and our businesses more efficient,” said Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia. “Through strategic investments and continued technological advancements in California’s emerging lithium economy, we can create high-tech, well-paying jobs in places like Imperial and Riverside Counties and other underserved, environmentally vulnerable communities statewide.”

The report, Electrifying California: Economic Potential of Growing Electric Transportation, was prepared for AEE by leading workforce and economic development research consultant BW Research Partnership. Key findings include:

  • California is the leading state for ET-related activity, with an estimated 3,900 ET-related businesses in 2019 and jobs found in 55 of its 58 counties. Concentrations of ET workers are located in the Bay Area (specifically Alameda County), Capital Region, and Southern California, plus San Bernardino, San Joaquin, Riverside, and Yolo counties.
  • The ET workforce is projected to nearly double by 2024. As the central production hub for the most popular EVs on the market today, California employs an estimated 35,000 ET-related workers and is projected to add another 33,000 jobs by 2024.
  • ET activity accounted for $4.5 billion in Gross State Product (GSP), about equivalent to the GSP contributions of industries like General Automotive Repair, Semiconductor Machinery Manufacturing, and Breweries.
  • A range of occupations and skill sets are needed for ET work in California. The design and production of both software and hardware for ET goods means that a wide variety of workers with an array of skills are needed. This means growth in ET jobs presents a range of career opportunities for a broad subset of workers.
  • California has a robust and growing workforce in Adjacent and Support Industries that could benefit by shifting to meet ET demand. Many industries—such as Semiconductor and Related Device Manufacturing and Other Electronic Component Manufacturing—stand to grow by serving the ET supply-chain. A total of 573,000 workers in Adjacent and Support Industries have skills that would allow them and their companies to transition to ET-related work with relatively little training or upskilling required.
  • Several training and education programs are geared toward ET workforce development. Current training and education programs span the design, development, manufacture, repair, and installation of ET charging infrastructure. The state would benefit from expanding access to training and education for younger, underrepresented workers and those in rural and central valley regions.
  • Establishing market certainty with long-term policy commitments will help the state retain its leading position in ET jobs and economic benefits. Codifying robust zero-emission vehicle and infrastructure targets will send strong signals to invest in California. Tracking progress and key workforce trends will help leaders understand how to adjust to the rapidly evolving ET industry and to support quality jobs for all Californians.
  • The Salton Sea presents a new market opportunity. Lithium, an essential metal component in most ET batteries, is found in high concentrations in the Salton Sea brine and several ventures are experimenting with viable extraction methods. Lithium mining could bring numerous jobs to the region.  

The report includes a sampling of California companies involved in ET-related business and several company snapshots including: Tesla, headquartered in Palo Alto with a major manufacturing facility in Fremont; EDF Renewables, which purchased PowerFlex to offer EV charging solutions; Enel X, which designs and manufactures smart EV charging systems; Greenlots, now part of the Shell Group, offering charging solutions to fleet operators; and EVgo, headquartered in Los Angeles, is the largest public fast-charging network for EVs.

The report offers specific policy recommendations to accelerate EV market growth and the burgeoning supply-chain businesses in California: 

  • Establish long-term policy and market certainty. Fluctuating policies and incentives can introduce business risk that dampens investment in technologies and workforce development needed to support ET. Clear, durable market signals from the Governor’s Office, California Legislature, and state agencies will help California remain a global EV leader as the industry continues to mature. Efforts like Governor Newsom’s proposed 2021-2022 State Budget – which includes $1.5 billion in equitable investment directed toward zero-emission vehicles and infrastructure over several years – would beget the long-term market certainty needed to fuel California’s advanced transportation industry and attract new investment to the state.
  • Continue to create high-road opportunities to grow California’s EV workforce. Developing a skilled workforce should be considered an investment – not a cost. California should continue to explore opportunities to leverage public funding toward EVs and infrastructure in a manner that reasonably supports inclusive, quality jobs for all Californians.
  • Track progress and key workforce trends. With an industry that is evolving as rapidly as electric transportation, California should take the opportunity to regularly track key opportunities, challenges, and metrics – like the ones captured in this report – associated with growing the EV workforce. Policies that encourage frequent data collection and reporting among the state’s energy, transportation, and economic development agencies would give market players a clear view into how the industry is evolving and what trends to anticipate as the EV industry continues to mature.
  • Codify robust zero-emission vehicle and infrastructure targets: Executive Order N-79-20 sets nation-leading targets to move California toward 100% zero-emission vehicle sales for light-duty vehicles and a fully zero-emission medium and heavy-duty vehicle fleet. The CEC’s inaugural AB 2127 report also provides a preliminary estimate of the levels of EV charging infrastructure needed to support California’s zero-emission vehicle targets. California should seek to codify the zero-emission vehicle goals in Executive Order N-79-20, begin the regulatory processes required to implement these vehicle goals and establish infrastructure targets that align with the CEC’s ongoing EV charging infrastructure demand analyses.

Background Materials

  • Advanced Energy Now 2021 Market Report: "In 2020, Advanced Energy Revenue Reached $1.4 Trillion Worldwide; U.S. Market Totals $240 Billion," detailing 16% annual growth in the advanced transportation sector, is here.

  • Sept. 29, 2020 Economic Impact Report: “Stimulus Investments in Advanced Energy Sector Would Deliver More than $700 Billion to California Economy,” (a seven-fold return) summary with report link is here. 

About Advanced Energy Economy
Advanced Energy Economy (AEE) is a national association of businesses that are making the energy we use secure, clean, and affordable. AEE is the only industry association in the U.S. that represents the full range of advanced energy technologies and services, both grid-scale and distributed. Advanced energy includes energy efficiency, demand response, energy storage, wind, solar, hydro, nuclear, electric vehicles, and more. AEE’s mission is to transform public policy to enable rapid growth of advanced energy businesses. Engaged at the federal level and more than a dozen states around the country, AEE represents more than 100 companies in the $240 billion U.S. advanced energy industry, which employs 3.2 million U.S. workers. AEE's PowerSuite online platform allows users to track regulatory and legislative issues in state legislatures, U.S. Congress, state PUCs, RTOs/ISOs, and FERC. Sign up for a free trial at powersuite.aee.net. Follow us at @AEEnet.

Topics: Press Releases