MONTPELIER — The clean energy industry is projected to grow 12 percent during the next 12 months.
Monday, the state Department of Public Service released its “2014 Clean Energy Industry Report,” which forecasts the state will add approximately 1,800 jobs in an industry that pays an hourly rate far higher than the state average.
“Vermont’s clean energy industry has developed into an important part of our economy,” said Christopher Recchia, commissioner for the Department of Public Service. “Developing more clean energy jobs and expanding markets for Vermont’s energy entrepreneurs will serve us well in both improving our economy and helping us meet our goal of obtaining 90 percent of our energy from renewable sources by 2050.”
The study projects the clean energy industry will add three times as many new jobs during the next 12 months as it has during the past year. In 2013, approximately 14,800 people worked with clean energy, which the study defines as renewable power sources such as wind, solar, hydro, biomass and agricultural methane, or “cow power.”
During the past 12 months, the number of jobs has increased to approximately 15,300, an increase of 3.4 percent. However, the study projects more than 17,100 people will work in the clean energy industry during the next 12 months, an increase of 12 percent.
Study data came from a poll conducted in February and March by BW Research Partnership in collaboration with the Castleton Polling Institute in Rutland. With 1,464 responses, the poll asked employers to discuss their current workforce and hiring projections for the next year.
According to the study, the clean energy industry employs more than 15,000 workers at nearly 2,700 locations, composing 4.3 percent of the overall workforce in the state.
Statistically, the industry tends to skew toward small businesses, with 62 percent of employees working for a company that employs five or fewer people; 26 percent of people work for a company with six to 24 employees.
Gov. Peter Shumlin unveiled the study at Blodgett Supply — which sells energy-efficient products — during the first stop on what he’s calling his “Summer Solar Tour,” which will include stops around the state during the next few months to discuss the strength of the state’s renewable energy sector. In 2013, the Solar Foundation ranked Vermont first in the nation in solar jobs per capita.
“This report confirms what I’ve believed for a long time: that the clean energy industry in Vermont is vibrant and vital to our economy and presents a tremendous opportunity for good-paying jobs for Vermonters as we solve our energy challenges to get off of fossil fuels,” Shumlin said.
According to a 2011 study by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which surveyed 12,000 workers in the clean energy industry, wages in the industry average $4 an hour more than the state average of all occupations.
Recent polling shows Vermont residents and businesses support renewable energy. According to a poll of 600 people conducted this spring by the Energy Action Network, 90 percent of respondents believe making the transition to renewable energy is necessary and important, with 74 percent saying the transition should come “as quickly as possible.”
Monday, Williston-based CPA firm Davis & Hodgdon Associates released a poll it conducted of 170 businesses, 73 percent of which reported they planned to implement or expand upon their environmentally friendly practices during the next three years. Respondents also made it clear the changes should come from the ground up, with 68 percent saying the state should not implement legislation to make environmentally friendly practices mandatory.
To view the full report, visit publicservice.vermont.gov.