Report: 61,000 clean energy jobs in MN and counting

The number of Minnesota jobs in energy efficiency and renewable energy grew by nearly 5 percent from 2017 to 2018, bringing total clean energy jobs to more than 61,000, according to a report released Tuesday at the State Capitol.

Clean Energy Economy Minnesota's annual report shows clean energy jobs make up 2 percent of all jobs in Minnesota. The group, which advocates for companies who manufacture and install renewable energy or energy efficient technologies, expects clean energy jobs will increase 7.3 percent in 2019 from the previous year.

State officials said the analysis shows clean energy is a growing economic sector for Minnesota and would get a boost from legislation calling for 100 percent clean energy by 2050. That legislation has received hearings at the Capitol but might not make it through the Republican-controlled Senate.

"This report shows that Minnesota can and will pioneer the green energy economy," Gov. Tim Walz said in a news release Tuesday. "I am excited by the rapid growth we're seeing in clean energy jobs and the potential that holds for our state's future, especially in greater Minnesota."

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According to the report, 40 percent of the state's clean energy jobs were located in greater Minnesota. The report also cited Bureau of Labor and Employment Statistics data showing the number of clean energy workers in Minnesota now surpasses the number of teachers in the state and the number of people employed by the banking or medical technology sectors.

Three-quarters of Minnesota's clean energy jobs are in energy efficiency, such as manufacturers of energy efficient windows and companies working to make buildings more efficient through lighting upgrades or better heating and ventilation systems, the report said.

Renewable energy jobs grew by 12 percent in 2018. Among those attending a news conference in the governor's office was Michael Allen, CEO of All Energy Solar. He said the company is moving to bigger offices at the end of the month.

"We've added 24 employees just in the last week and plan to expand by another 25 by the end of the year," he said.

The Center of the American Experiment, a conservative think tank critical of renewable energy expansion in the state, dismissed the report, saying most of the "energy-efficiency" jobs in the report are in industries that have been around for a long time, such as window and HVAC manufacturers.