Nearly 99,000 clean energy jobs in MA

Report: Sector represents 3.3% of state workforce

STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE

THE CLEAN ENERGY SECTOR now employs nearly 99,000 workers in Massachusetts, after five consecutive years of growth, according to a report out Tuesday from the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center.

A total of 6,439 clean energy companies across the state employ 98,895 workers, representing 11.9 percent growth over last year, the 2015 Massachusetts Clean Energy Industry Report found.

The increase from 2014 to 2015 is the largest since the center began collecting data five years ago, edging out the 11.8 percent increase from 2012 to 2013. From 2013 to 2014, clean energy employment grew by 10.5 percent.

Overall, the number of clean energy jobs in the state has grown by 64 percent since 2010, according to the center.

“With steady job growth over the past five years, the Massachusetts clean energy industry is robust,” said MassCEC interim CEO Stephen Pike. “The clean energy sector is fueling small businesses and paying workers high wages across the state from Beverly to Pittsfield.”

Clean energy jobs now represent 3.3 percent of the state’s workforce and 2.5 percent of the gross state product, the report found. The report said that the clean energy industry includes workers from every county in the state, three-quarters of whom earn more than $50,000 per year.

“With five years of consistent job growth, the clean energy sector is an economic engine that is putting Massachusetts on the map for global leadership in clean energy,” said Peter Rothstein, president of the Northeast Clean Energy Council. “Private sector innovation and investment combined with public sector leadership on forward-thinking clean energy policies are continuing to prove to be a strong formula to drive the flourishing of this industry.”

A series of energy reform proposals — including separate solar bills passed by both the House and the Senate, and a hydropower bill proposed by Gov. Baker — have come before lawmakers this session as debate continues on how to best diversify the state’s energy mix. Proponents of renewable energy projects say that they not only benefit the environment by reducing reliance on fossil fuels, but lower electricity bills and create jobs.

[Solar developers say their share of the clean energy sector may suffer in 2016 because the House and Senate failed to agree this year on legislation setting out how the developers should be paid for electricity they deliver to the power grid. The two branches are far apart philosophically, with the House pushing for much lower levels of compensation than the Senate.]

[Sean Garren of the advocacy group Vote Solar said 2016 is shaping up to be a “solar job killer” because of inaction by the Legislature.]