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Report: Energy Jobs in KY Aren't All Coal

November 29, 2010

BEREA, Ky. - There's plenty of talk of coal's importance to Kentucky's economy, but a new report suggests taking a serious look at what clean energy can do to put Kentuckians back to work. The Mountain Association for Community Economic Development (MACED) surveyed wide-ranging studies on the emerging clean-energy economy in the Bluegrass State.

Jason Bailey, research and policy director for MACED, says the state's beleaguered manufacturing and construction industries could get a big boost from clean-energy jobs.

"It's in jobs like retro-fitting homes and buildings for energy efficiency; in manufacturing the component parts that go into new renewable-energy systems; in installing renewable energy."

Bailey says Kentucky should join other states in creating a portfolio standard for wind, solar and other renewable energy sources, and expand financing to spur investment among developers, businesses and homeowners.

He contends that, as job opportunities in coal slide, there's growing recognition that Kentucky should gradually look to cleaner, greener energy forms. But Bailey says some training may be needed.

"A lot of the jobs that will be created in the clean energy sector are so-called 'middle-skill' jobs which need more than a high school diploma but less than a four-year college degree. And we have a lot of Kentuckians who are low-skilled, who have not achieved those credentials."

MACED reports that in 2007, about 56 percent of the state's job demand was in middle-skill occupations, but only 44 percent of workers were equipped for those jobs. MACED says the state should coordinate a work force development strategy that maps career pathways for low-skilled, low-income Kentuckians in clean energy.

That MACED report is available at www.maced.org

Renee Shaw, Public News Service - KY