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MN Clean-Energy Jobs Rebound from COVID Punch

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Wednesday, August 11, 2021   

MINNEAPOLIS - The COVID-19 pandemic ended job gains in plenty of industries, including clean energy. But a new report says the setback for Minnesota's green jobs sector wasn't long lasting.

An annual summary, released today by the national nonprofit E-2, shows that overall, the state lost more than 6,000 clean-energy jobs last year, but saw a 10% gain in the second half of 2020.

Amelia Cerling Hennes, director of communications for the group Clean Energy Economy Minnesota, said the rebound was welcome news - and not surprising.

"This surge back in jobs that we saw in the second half of last year kind of shows us what we've always known," she said, "that the clean-energy industry is strong, and it's a vital part of Minnesota's economy."

Energy-efficiency jobs, which involve helping businesses reduce their carbon footprint, saw notable losses. The report said that subsector, which accounts for most of Minnesota's clean-energy jobs, is taking longer to recover. But other areas, such as advanced transportation, are seeing fast growth, with the push for more zero-emission vehicles. The E-2 report relies on federal Energy Department data.

Joe Stofega, of Minneapolis-based Nokomis Energy, said they paused hiring in the initial stages of the pandemic, but that the pace for development has picked up. He added that in light of this week's U.N. climate-change report, they could get more calls from companies wanting to do their part.

"When we work with a business," he said, "there certainly, increasingly, have become more sustainability drivers that have gotten the attention of business leaders to evaluate."

Wane Worlobah, a newly hired employee at Tru-North Solar, said he explored doing electrical work while making a career transition during the crisis. That led him to solar installation, which he likes because of the mission tied to it.

"I'm able to advance my focus on electrical work," he said, "and I'm able to do that meaningful work."

Industry groups have said they'd like to see certain policy changes, such as higher building performance standards, in hopes of prompting more companies to take on these projects that would help to reduce emissions.

Disclosure: Clean Energy Economy Minnesota & Clean Grid Alliance Coalition contributes to our fund for reporting on Climate Change/Air Quality, Energy Policy, Environment. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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