By Brett Peveto • Indiana News Service
A new look at clean energy jobs in the U.S. shows growth in Indiana and the prospect of greater gains in the future.
The Department of Energy recently released its annual U.S. Energy and Employment report showing clean energy jobs increased nearly 4% nationally over the last year, faster than the overall rate of job growth in the nation. Indiana saw a growth rate of more than 3% in clean energy jobs.
Laura Ann Arnold, president of the Indiana Distributed Energy Alliance, said large solar projects are currently leading the clean energy sector.
“It would appear that it’s extremely robust for utility scale solar based on who is requesting interconnection,” Arnold observed. “The data from the national report shows that it’s solar that continues to be out front in terms of development.”
The Energy Department report showed the clean energy sector supports more than 96,000 jobs in Indiana, including in renewable energy generation, grid modernization and storage, efficiency upgrades, and clean vehicle manufacturing.
Most of Indiana is connected to an electric grid managed by the Midcontinent Independent System Operator. The Energy Department report tracking energy sector jobs is based on last year’s numbers, but Arnold noted looking at planned grid connections can give us a more current picture of upcoming projects across the region.
“The MISO interconnection queue for solar only shows that there is 15,000 megawatts in the queue,” Arnold pointed out. “That’s a fairly big number. A typical, say, power plant or solar farm, might be in the anywhere from 150 to 400 megawatt size.”
The Department of Energy report showed the energy sector nationally has recovered 71% of the jobs lost during the pandemic, but the distribution of jobs has shifted across technologies.