Study: Clean Energy Jobs Rise, But Growth May Slow

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EDP's Headwaters Wind Farm is in Randolph County. EDP's Headwaters Wind Farm is in Randolph County.

A new study shows the number of clean energy jobs in Indiana increased 4.7 percent in 2018, however that growth could stall moving forward. An analysis of energy jobs data from Illinois-based Clean Energy Trust and nonpartisan business group Environmental Entrepreneurs, or E2, says the state's sector added more than 3,800 jobs last year, bringing the total number of clean energy jobs to nearly 87,000. Micaela Preskill, Midwest advocate for E2, says the growth was led by an 18 percent increase in advanced transportation-related jobs.

In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Preskill said one of the major themes of the report is policies at the state and federal level really matter, and strong policies lead to strong clean energy development and job growth.

"Indiana is actually a very interesting story because while we saw increased growth over the last year, part of our report also looks at projected job growth in the next year and this comes from survey results directly from clean energy employers themselves and Indiana falls pretty short," said Preskill. "We saw a 4.7 percent growth in 2018 but employers are reporting in our survey that they only anticipate increasing employment by 1 percent in 2019."

Preskill says the projected slowdown in clean energy job growth in Indiana is likely due to two factors. They include a lack of strong state clean energy policies, as well as a possible rollback in existing policies. She adds it is also because of a tight job market in Indiana and the fact that there are more clean energy jobs than there are qualified clean energy workers.

"Indiana needs stronger state policies," said Preskill. "I know that the state legislature is considering a rollback, or a moratorium of solar utility scale projects. That would be devastating to the industry and would certainly be one reason why employers are anticipating slow job growth and one reason why we would expect to see potentially job losses in the next year."

The report shows Indiana and Minnesota tied for most clean energy job growth over the last year. Indiana's clean energy jobs now make up 2.6 percent of all jobs in the state. The report also highlighted other key findings, including:

  • Small businesses are driving Indiana’s clean energy sectors, with 71.9 percent of clean energy businesses employing fewer than 20 individuals.
  • 12.5 percent of Hoosiers employed in clean energy are veterans, compared to the national average of six percent.
  • Construction (35.1 percent) and manufacturing (46.0 percent) make up the majority of clean energy jobs
  • 3,180 Hoosiers now work in grid modernization (1,389) and energy storage (1,791)
  • Electric power generation jobs using fossil fuels (6,789) employed 3,975 less workers than renewable energy generation jobs (10,764).

You can connect to the full report by clicking here.

Preskill says strong policies lead to strong clean energy development and job growth.
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