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Minnesota is beating other Midwest states when it comes to clean energy jobs

Minnesota is now home to almost 60,000 clean energy sector workers.

The clean energy industry continues to strengthen in Minnesota, now accounting for 2 percent of total jobs in the state.

As of the end of 2017, there were 59,079 clean energy industry workers in Minnesota, a 2.6 percent rise on the year before.

That's the finding of a report – albeit an industry-sponsored one – by Clean Jobs Midwest, which analyzed data from the 2018 U.S. Energy and Employment report.

Minnesota is one of the few places in the Midwest where clean energy and renewables jobs are increasing, and the 59,079 people employed in the sector in 2017 are expected to be joined by around 2,700 this year – a projected 4.6 percent rise.

Of the almost 60,000 jobs in the state, 75 percent are in energy efficiency – such as HVAC techicians, companies that install energy efficient lighting, and window installation firms.

A further 12.3 percent work in renewable energy, which continues to grow in Minnesota despite some declines being noted elsewhere. 

There are now 7,241 people working in renewable energy jobs such as wind and solar power, which is not far off from equalling the 9,427 fossil fuel energy jobs in the state.

That said, renewable energy only accounts for 25 percent of the state's electricity generation, compared to 40 percent for coal alone.

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The report says that solar jobs have fallen across the Midwest overall amid federal cuts to solar tax credits, but Minnesota managed to increase solar energy jobs by 18 percent last year, and now totals just under 4,500 employees.

MPR reports that it's partly thanks to programs like the Community Solar Gardens initiative, allowing urban residents to buy shares in rural solar farms, that has helped Minnesota's solar industry grow.

It's a credit to the state's thriving clean energy industry that it continues to add jobs despite an increasingly tight labor market, and continued uncertainty at federal levels, which has seen restrictions loosened on fuel economy initiatives and carbon heavy industries under the Trump administration.

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