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Clean Energy Is Generating Jobs (May 2017)

Published: May 2017
By Rick Laezman

There is more to clean energy than power that doesn’t pollute. According to government statistics, it also creates jobs.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently released its “2017 U.S. Energy and Employment Report” (USEER). The report finds that the traditional energy and energy efficiency sectors currently employ approximately 6.4 million Americans, and the markets are growing. According to the report, these sectors increased in 2016 by just under 5 percent, adding over 300,000 net new jobs, or roughly 14 percent of all the jobs created in the country last year.

A slight majority of the energy industry workers is employed in what would be considered traditional sectors like coal, oil and gas, but the number of workers employed in clean energy sectors is not far behind. In fact, it is almost an even split.

Analyzing the DOE report, a collection of national business groups representing various clean energy companies in the United States applauded its numbers, pointing out that their industries represent an almost equivalent sized workforce to traditional energy sectors at just over 3 million workers.

The group includes Advanced Energy Economy, American Council on Renewable Energy, AJW (representing Energy Service Companies), Alliance to Save Energy, American Wind Energy Association, the Business Council for Sustainable Energy, Energy Storage Association, and Solar Energy Industries Association.

According to Lisa Jacobson, president of the Business Council for Sustainable Energy, “The trend lines are clear. Energy efficiency, natural gas and renewable energy are creating well-paying jobs.” She adds that “the contributions of clean energy jobs to the country’s economy are significant and expanding.” The DOE numbers seem to back her up.

Highlights of the report include nearly 2 million workers making energy efficient buildings and appliances; more than 600,000 workers involved with clean power generation, including biomass, biogas, fuel cells, geothermal, hydropower, nuclear, natural gas, solar, waste-to-energy, and wind; 100,000 workers in advanced grid technologies, including energy storage; and more than 200,000 jobs supported by advanced transportation, including hybrid, electric, and fuel cell vehicles.