A new report finds almost 25,000 workers in Wisconsin’s clean energy industry, yet the state lagged compared to others in the Midwest.
The report, from the Clean Energy Trust and Environmental Entrepreneurs, found about 17,000 of them worked on energy efficiency in companies such as Johnson Controls, which helps companies find energy-saving solutions.
About 5,600 people worked in the renewable energy fields, with 3,700 in solar, more than 1,100 in biomass and almost 600 in wind energy.
Wisconsin, though, had fewer workers in the industry than several Midwest states, including the 114,000 in Illinois and 54,000 in Minnesota.
That’s partly explained by Wisconsin having more people devoted to clean energy specifically, rather than partially, said BW Research Partners VP Phil Jordan, who helped with the analysis of federal data. In other words, Wisconsin had a lower headcount, but its employees were more likely to devote their entire time at work to clean energy.
Still, RENEW Wisconsin Executive Director Tyler Huebner said Wisconsin has a “big opportunity” to take the lead. Instead, he said, the state hasn’t set a new renewable portfolio standard since meeting the previous 2015 goal.
And Huebner pointed to a bill awaiting Gov. Scott Walker’s signature that cuts the state’s Focus on Energy program by $7 million through changing language on how it’s funded. The bill, AB 804, makes several technical changes to the Public Service Commission.
“There’s a way forward to grow clean energy jobs,” Huebner said. “Wisconsin can follow those leaders.”
— By Polo Rocha,