REPORT: Minnesota clean energy jobs grew 5% in 2021, now home to 57,931 workers
Minnesota’s clean energy economy positioned for even greater growth with Inflation Reduction Act investments
MINNEAPOLIS, MN – Clean energy businesses in Minnesota added more than 2,600 workers in 2021, now employing 57,931 Minnesotans across the state. That’s according to a new analysis of employment data released today by the national, nonpartisan business group E2 (Environmental Entrepreneurs), and nonprofits Evergreen Climate Innovations and Clean Energy Economy MN (CEEM). The report comes after Congress and the Biden administration passed the largest investment in climate and clean energy in history which is set to boost clean energy jobs and businesses across the state and nation.
After a downturn across all energy jobs in 2020, Minnesota clean energy jobs grew 5 percent in 2021. According to the 2022 Clean Jobs Midwest – Minnesota report, growth in 2021 was driven by advanced transportation, which added more than 740 jobs and now employs 3,994 workers statewide.
Despite the recent growth, clean energy jobs still have significant room to grow in Minnesota. With billions in funds from the Inflation Reduction Act preparing to be invested nationwide, the state has an enormous opportunity to create tens of thousands more jobs in the coming years. To realize the full potential of jobs and emissions reduction benefits from the Inflation Reduction Act, state and federal coordination is needed. Policies that remove barriers for clean energy deployment like the development of workforce training programs and expansion of transmission infrastructure will also be critical.
“I feel great pride seeing Minnesota making strides to shift to clean energy and creating good jobs in the process,” said U.S. Senator Tina Smith. “The job growth in this report proves that transitioning to clean energy benefits not just our environment, but our economy, too. The climate crisis demands a comprehensive shift to clean energy and organizations like Clean Energy Economy MN are helping us meet the moment.”
CEEM Executive Director Gregg Mast points to the job growth as a sign that policy leadership at the state and federal level continues to be critically important.
“Minnesota’s clean energy sector has proven its resilience and paired with the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, our industry is poised to supercharge job creation and economic growth across the state,” said Gregg Mast. “With the right coordination between state and federal agencies and the clean energy industry – we will be a powerful engine for clean energy innovation for decades to come.”
According to the analysis, the energy efficiency sector continued to lead clean energy in total jobs in 2021 with more than 42,210 workers followed by renewable energy (8,270 jobs) and advanced transportation (3,994 jobs). Meanwhile, advanced transportation saw the fastest job growth across clean energy (23 percent), followed by renewable energy (9 percent).
Clean energy employment grew 5 percent nationwide to reach 3.2 million jobs. The Midwest also saw clean energy jobs increase 5 percent, a rate faster than overall employment growth in the region. The 12-state Midwest region is now home to over 714,000 clean energy jobs.
The solar industry has experienced massive growth in the last decade, and CEEM business member EVS, Inc. a civil engineering firm based in Eden Prairie, can attest to the challenges and joys of rapid growth.
“In the last 5 years, we’ve added 105 people which represents 36% growth. The passage of the Inflation Reduction Act has only kickstarted further and faster growth,” shares EVS, Inc. President Andy Kim. “In the next 5 years I envision EVS becoming one of the premier solar and storage engineering firms in the country, we have an incredible runway in front of us. There is so much opportunity as we and many others grow to meet the demands of our rapidly growing industry.”
“Clean energy careers are the economic engine of our state’s clean energy transition, employing thousands of Minnesotans in an industry that continues to grow,” Minnesota Commerce Commissioner Grace Arnold said. “We must help Minnesota’s clean energy companies by training more future employees. For example, through Minnesota’s Weatherization Assistance Program, Commerce provides training to workers statewide on how to make homes safer and more energy efficient.”
CEEM-member Willdan is a Minnetonka-based efficiency company that designs solutions to improve efficiency and resiliency in buildings across Minnesota and the country.
“At Willdan we see the growth of energy efficiency jobs directly connected to the billions headed toward the state thanks to significant federal investment,” says Chris Baker, Project Executive with Willdan. “Minnesota legislators have the capacity to put the clean energy workforce into super drive by implementing the right policies, including strengthening our state building codes. It’s a small measure but comes with a big impact – both in terms of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and in job creation.”
The Laborer’s International Union of North America (LIUNA) Minnesota & North Dakota based in St. Paul, Minnesota is an infrastructure union of 13,000 skilled construction and blue collar Laborers who contribute to building large utility wind, solar and transmission projects in the region.
“The future is bright for LIUNA members in clean energy: LIUNA men and women are building wind and solar projects in every corner of Minnesota, and we expect our numbers to grow thanks to the Biden Administration’s leadership on infrastructure and energy investment,” shares Joel Smith, President and Business Manager, LIUNA Minnesota and North Dakota. “With newly expanded training facilities and apprentices coming in the doors, we’re ready to get the job done.”
To meet the nation’s climate goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent from 2005 levels by 2030, and state goals around growing clean energy jobs and improving equity in the clean energy economy outlined in the recently published Minnesota Climate Action Framework, lawmakers should:
- Implement recently passed federal policies to support a rapid and just transition to clean energy. The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), and the CHIPS and Science Act include a combined investment of hundreds of billions of dollars in the clean energy economy. Coordination across federal, state, and local agencies will be integral to maximize the effectiveness of this historic level of funding.
- Develop and fund federal and state workforce development initiatives to work in partnership with existing registered apprenticeship programs. Workforce training will be critical to the continued growth of the industry, as over 84 percent of employers in the state report at least some difficulty hiring workers.
- Expand our regional transmission grid and increase ease of access for clean energy projects. The Midcontinent Independent System Operator’s recent announcement of new transmission infrastructure will significantly improve the reliability of Minnesota’s congested grid, allowing for greater investment in clean energy solutions of all scales.
- Update Minnesota’s building codes to reduce energy costs and grow energy efficiency jobs. In 2021, the state legislature considered a bill to allow cities to adopt a more efficient building standard to achieve net-zero energy for new commercial buildings by 2036.
- Increase Minnesota’s energy standard to 100 percent clean energy. Under such a standard, utilities could help design a schedule to meet carbon reduction goals by 2040. If passed, Minnesota would join 10 other states in passing legislation to achieve 100 percent carbon-free electricity.
- Clean energy occupations accounted for 28 percent of all construction jobs and 2 percent of all manufacturing jobs in Minnesota.
- Small businesses drive Minnesota’s clean energy sector – in 2021, 69 percent of Minnesota’s clean energy businesses employed fewer than 20 people.
- 11 percent of Minnesotans employed in clean energy are veterans
For a full breakdown of clean energy jobs for every state in the Midwest, see the detailed breakdowns available at www.cleanjobsmidwest.com – including profiles of workers in each sector.
For interviews or video access with the quoted businesses, please contact:
- EVS, Inc | Jordan Hermes | Direct: 952.646.0250 | Cell: 612.423.2739 | Email: email@example.com
- Willdan | Chris Baker | Direct: 952.938.1588| Email: CBaker@willdan.com
This is the seventh annual Clean Jobs Midwest report produced by E2 and Evergreen Climate Innovations (formerly Clean Energy Trust) based on analysis of the U.S. Department of Energy’s annual US Energy Employment & Jobs Report (USEER) by the BW Research Partnership. The USEER analyzes data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) to track employment across many energy production, transmission and distribution subsectors. In addition, the 2022 USEER relies on a unique supplemental survey of 33,000 business representatives across the United States.
For more details on methodology see https://www.cleanjobsmidwest.com/survey-methodology.
Previous E2 and Evergreen Jobs Reports:
- Clean Jobs Midwest 2021
- Clean Jobs Midwest 2020
- Clean Jobs Midwest 2019
- Clean Jobs Midwest 2018
- Clean Jobs Midwest 2017
- Clean Jobs Midwest 2016
- Report: Clean Jobs America 2022 (July 2022)
Clean Energy Economy MN (CEEM): CEEM is an industry-led 501(c)(3) nonprofit representing the business case for clean energy in Minnesota. CEEM provides a unified voice for clean energy business across the state. Our mission is to provide educational leadership, collaboration, and policy analysis that accelerates clean energy market growth and smart energy policies.
Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2) is a national, nonpartisan group of business leaders, investors, and professionals from every sector of the economy who advocate for smart policies that are good for the economy and good for the environment. Our members have founded or funded more than 2,500 companies, created more than 600,000 jobs, and manage more than $100 billion in venture and private equity capital. For more information, see www.e2.org or follow us on Twitter at @e2org.
Evergreen Climate Innovations, formerly Clean Energy Trust, provides catalytic capital and support to entrepreneurs and startups that bring impactful climate technologies to market. The nonprofit pioneered its 501vc® Investment Fund to align philanthropic and corporate contributions to deliver environmental, economic, and social impact. Evergreen advances and expands access to innovation across the Greater Midwest and cultivates an ecosystem of investors, donors, and collaborators. For over a decade, Evergreen Climate Innovations has invested in startups that have raised $37 for every $1 invested.