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State Leads Midwest in Clean Energy Employment Growth
Minnesota Ag Connection - 08/10/2018

More than 59,000 Minnesota residents now work in clean energy industries in every county in the state according to a new analysis of energy jobs data from Clean Energy Trust (CET) and the nonpartisan business group E2 (Environmental Entrepreneurs). Clean Energy Economy MN (CEEM) released the third annual report, which shows that the state's clean energy jobs grew at a rate of 2.6 percent, twice as fast as overall job growth in the state. Minnesota's growth is also a bright spot in the Midwest, which saw an overall 1.2 percent decline in clean energy jobs.

This year, Minnesota achieved our Renewable Energy Standard seven years early. Now over 25 percent of our energy comes from renewable sources, powering a clean energy economy that employs over 59,000 Minnesotans," said Governor Mark Dayton. "Minnesota has made tremendous progress to advance clean energy and create jobs. But we must do more to build an even better, more environmentally sustainable future for our children and grandchildren."

Renewable energy was the fastest-growing clean energy sector in the state with 16.5 percent annual job growth - the highest in the Midwest. Energy efficiency, Minnesota's largest clean energy sector, employs more than 44,000 Minnesotans and saw 2.4 percent job growth, which is faster than the average growth rate for the Midwest. These jobs include workers manufacturing energy efficient windows and doors, or contractors whose building retrofits save people money with high-efficiency lighting and heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems.

"This report reiterates the fact that Minnesota is a leader in clean energy across the Midwest. It's proof that when states enact policies that support clean energy growth and innovation -- really positive things can happen," said Gregg Mast, Executive Director of CEEM. "Despite political headwinds, the industry is adding jobs faster than the rest of our economy. Clean energy employers are bullish on the prospects for continued growth and with the right policies in place, Minnesota will continue to lead on clean energy here in the Midwest and across the country."

This past year, clean energy jobs in Greater Minnesota soared, now accounting for more than 40 percent of all clean energy jobs across the state. St. Cloud's metro area employs the highest number of clean energy workers outside of the Twin Cities with 2,400 residents employed in clean energy, surpassing the Duluth metro which took the honor last year.

"From manufacturing to engineering, clean energy jobs in Minnesota cross a number of different industries," said Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) Commissioner Shawntera Hardy. "I am particularly encouraged to see large clean energy job growth in Greater Minnesota communities. These are jobs that pay family-sustaining wages and boost the state's overall economy."

Detailed and interactive breakdowns of Minnesota's clean energy economy are available on the CEEM website here -- including job totals for every county, congressional district, and state legislative district.

The report highlights that small businesses are powering Minnesota's clean energy economy--74 percent of businesses employ fewer than 20 individuals. IPS Solar in Roseville has seen their company grow quickly over the past few years along with the state's growth in solar energy.

"IPS Solar is a 25-year old company with a startup mentality. Between 2014 and 2016 we experienced 695 percent growth," said Eric Pasi, chief development officer at IPS Solar. "That kind of growth is why we are so excited about supporting and nurturing the clean energy industry in Minnesota, and why we've made being active in policy discussions a priority. Smart policies were enacted in 2013 that helped lead to our success. I've seen what this growth does for Minnesota, by the number of jobs we've been able to create and the number of communities we've been able to assist. We do a lot of work building community solar gardens and we've been able to assist schools, churches and others in saving significant amounts on their energy costs."

Despite the report's largely good news for clean energy businesses and job growth in Minnesota, it also highlighted that Minnesota's clean energy businesses reported more difficulty in hiring than the rest of the Midwest with 85 percent of companies reporting difficulty hiring qualified employees, compared with 78 percent in the Midwest. As a result many companies offer competitive packages and on-the-job training.

"At Blattner Energy, we've constructed wind and solar energy projects across the country," said Stephen Jones, vice president of solar at Blattner Energy. "But Minnesota is home and we're proud to see the incredible gains this industry is making here. In fact, Minnesota leads the Midwest when it comes to the number of clean energy construction jobs. We've hired many of those people, who today are not only building clean energy projects, they are also building their careers. Hiring the best and the brightest is important to us and we offer competitive compensation packages to attract that talent. We also invest in our employees through various initiatives, such as Blattner's training approach and programs, which leads to a stronger workforce."

"For 40 years Trane's energy services and global building controls business has called Minnesota home. Because of the state's commitment to improving energy efficiency we are able to develop and attract talent to help us with our mission, which is to reduce the energy consumption of new and existing commercial buildings around the world," said Kevin Bollom, vice president of services at Trane, a business of Ingersoll Rand. "We're investing in new products and solutions that will help our customers reduce their energy footprint and greenhouse gas emissions. We are proud to employ a talented team of energy engineers, operators and technicians who are improving the energy efficiency of buildings throughout Minnesota and in every corner of the country. It feels good knowing we are part of an industry that is growing, and support our investment in the future workforce through philanthropic and job-training programs for Minnesotans."

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