Gilchrist highlights clean energy jobs following new report outlining industry growth
Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist and clean energy business representatives on Tuesday celebrated growth in Michigan’s clean energy industry following the release of a new report by E2, otherwise known as Environmental Entrepreneurs.
E2, a national nonpartisan group of business leaders and investors and others advocating for policies to support the environment and business, released its eighth annual Clean Jobs Midwest report alongside Evergreen Climate Innovations.
“Our report tracks clean energy jobs in five clean energy sectors: energy efficiency, renewable energy, clean transportation, clean fuels, and grid and storage,” said Micaela Preskill, E2’s Midwest advocate.
According to the report, Michigan is leading the midwest with 123,983 clean energy jobs, with clean transportation acting as Michigan’s fastest growing sector seeing a 14.4% increase in 2022.
“Now the industry’s growth is expected to continue as federal climate investments bring in new clean energy projects. And with strong state policy growth is even more certain,” Preskill said.
Energy efficiency made up the largest share of clean energy jobs in the state, with 75,085 workers in the state manufacturing Energy Star-rated appliances, installing efficient lighting, ventilation and air conditioning systems, as well as installing advanced building materials to promote efficiency in homes and commercial buildings.
Additionally, small businesses made up more than 75% of Michigan’s clean energy industry in 2022, the report said.
In addition to breaking down employment in clean energy jobs, the report also offered policy advice aimed at meeting the nation’s goals of reducing emissions 50% by 2030, growing clean energy jobs and promoting equity in the clean energy economy.
It encouraged lawmakers to develop and fund federal and state workforce development programs to help fill vacant positions and grow the industry. It also encouraged lawmakers to work with regional energy transmission organizations to build more transmission and increase access to clean energy.
The report also encouraged state-level lawmakers to pass clean energy policies, including adopting standards requiring 60% of a state’s electricity generation to come from renewables, adopting a statewide energy storage target, and enabling greater adoption of distributed energy generation like rooftop and community solar. It also recommended policies to reduce home and heating emissions by 17% and build out infrastructure to support 2 million electric vehicles on Michigan roads by 2030.
Michigan lawmakers introduced many similar policies earlier this year, with members of the Michigan Senate Energy and Environment Committee set to consider legislation to implement a 100% clean energy standard for energy providers by 2035 at its meeting Wednesday.
At a press conference, Gichrist said the report affirms that Michigan is on the right path, but that the state needs to do more to accelerate the growth of the clean energy industry.
“When we talk about almost 124,000 clean energy workers, that’s a great overall number, but I do want to emphasize that that number represents accelerating growth in the sector,” Gilchrist said. “In fact, the number grew almost 5% last year alone in 2022, which is twice as fast as the rate of growth for the overall economy in the state of Michigan.”
Additionally, Gilchrist noted that 16,000 of Michigan’s clean energy jobs were hosted in rural areas.
“When we invest in this space, we’re investing in the whole of Michigan, and economic growth and opportunity all across our state,” Gilchrist said.
Gilchrist said he and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer would continue working to support and accelerate clean energy job growth across the state from a policy perspective, highlighting past efforts setting state carbon emission goals investing state dollars into clean energy, efficiency and environmental justice, and supporting efforts in the Legislature to bring the governor’s Healthy Climate Plan into state law.
“We look forward to working with the Legislature to codify the MI Healthy Climate Plan, which will not only lock in the growth that we’ve had, but propel us forward for more growth and more ingenuity for years to come and hold on to Michigan’s spot as not only a leader in the region, but a leader in the nation,” Gilchrist said.
“We have big problems with climate change, but that means that we have big ideas that will lead to big solutions and better outcomes for all of our people. We have no hesitation in Michigan when it comes to ambition. We’ve solved big problems on a global scale in the past and we can do it in the future,” Gilchrist said.