I believe that electricity is the fuel of the future. Everyday Minnesotans are noticing the rapid increase in solar and wind-producing power in our lives. In fact, a solid quarter of the electricity generated in Minnesota already comes from renewable sources. But there is also an impact perhaps less well known, and that’s jobs.
Minnesota is home to more than 61,000 clean energy jobs, and the sector is growing fast — just in the last year the sector grew by nearly 5 percent. And when you drill down to specifically new jobs in renewable energy, you see an even faster pace of growth — a 12 percent increase to be exact. All of this is noted in the just-released 2019 Clean Jobs Midwest Report, an annual examination of clean energy jobs in the 12-state Midwest region that includes Minnesota and all of our neighbors.
As the owner of Winona Renewable Energy, I have witnessed this rapid pace of growth first-hand. I started my residential and commercial solar installation business in 2010, in the heart of the recession. And I was the sole worker until 2017, when I was able to make my first hire. A year later, I hired two more people, and the hiring trend looks like it will continue. We’re a small company, but we’ve experienced massive growth in the last few years, and our story is not unique.
A jaw-dropping 72 percent of clean energy businesses in the state employ fewer than 20 people. And 40 percent of the state’s clean energy jobs are located in Greater Minnesota, like ours. I am so proud to work in the clean energy business. I believe we are helping lay the groundwork for the future, when Minnesotans will get all of their electricity from clean sources. Until then, expect to see our industry continue to grow and offer good-paying jobs to those who seek to work hard in one of Minnesota’s fastest-growing industries.
Tim Gulden, Winona