The clean energy industry has tremendous potential for rural economic development. There are approximately 17,251 people employed in clean energy in Greater Minnesota, making up 30 percent of the total clean energy workforce. In Mankato, Duluth and St. Cloud, clean energy job growth was greater than 10 percent over the past year – double that of the statewide average.
“Demand for wind energy technicians is quite big. We can’t get enough students in for the job prospects out there,” said Gary Olson, instructor at Minnesota West Community and Technical College in Canby. “Chances are, for them to climb a ladder to get to a top pay scale, will be in a short time.”
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, wind service technician is the fastest-growing occupation in the country. The growth rate expected between 2014 and 2024 is 108 percent.
Minnesota’s clean energy job growth matches an upward growth trend nationally. The U.S. Department of Energy reported in 2017 that solar energy employed 373,807 people and wind employed 101,738 workers.
“This is a very viable career you can get into. [ ] We’re putting 25,000 jobs to the grid, so hopefully we can get a chunk of that for those who are struggling with finding jobs, struggling with trying to find a career,” says Leon “Tron” Mallett, crew leader with IPS Solar. “It’s a big market, and I would like to see a lot more diversity in the market as well.”
“When somebody has a job where they can actually buy a house, raise a family, and get their self-respect based on what they do, you’re basically looking at a technology that has the potential for a lot of healing,” says, Ralph Jacobson, founder/CEO of IPS Solar.
* In the summer of 2018, Clean Energy Economy Minnesota (CEEM) released Clean Jobs Midwest, a report from Clean Energy Trust and Environmental Entrepreneurs, which found Minnesota now has 59,079 total clean energy jobs.