According to a report released last week, Allegheny County is leading the way in clean-energy jobs. The report
, produced by national nonpartisan group Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2) and local partner Keystone Energy Efficiency Alliance (KEEA), revealed that Allegheny County leads the state with 8,100 workers employed in the clean-energy field.
“To know that the companies that are here work together, collaborate and continue to grow jobs in this region is something that I am very, very proud of,” Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said at an event earlier today.
Leaders in the clean-energy industry were gathered today at Huckestein Mechanical Services, a local mechanical and engineering contractor, to tour the facility, highlight the report and discuss ways to further advance the clean-energy industry
“Western Pennsylvania has a very proud history of leadership in manufacturing and also, of course, in energy innovation,” said Sharon Pillar of E2.
According to the report, growth in the clean-energy industry is consistent across the whole state with a 6 percent increase in jobs over the last year. There are clean-energy jobs in every state legislative and congressional district in Pennsylvania, totaling nearly 70,000 jobs. And most of our clean-energy professionals work in the energy-efficiency industry as engineers, electricians, software developers or construction workers.
“According to the U.S. Department of Energy, if our electric grid were just 5 percent more efficient, the energy savings would equate to permanently eliminating the fuel and greenhouse gas emissions from 53 million cars,” said Wendy Staso, president of Huckestein Mechanical Services.
Jobs in clean energy now outnumber jobs in fossil fuel at about a 2-to-1 ratio in Pennsylvania. And at the event, many clean-energy leaders expressed the desire to do more to keep growing their industry. As of now, while energy efficiency is an industry of 55,000 workers in Pennsylvania, renewable-energy jobs account for only about 10,000 jobs.
“With those 10,000 jobs, we’re only producing 5 percent of our electricity from renewable energy, but just think of the opportunity,” Pillar said. “The more clean energy that we have, the more jobs we will have. We look at states like Massachusetts that have half of our population, but they have almost 20,000 solar [energy] jobs alone, so they’re demonstrating with their policies what we can actually do.”
Julian Boggs, the policy director for KEEA, said the legislature has passed important laws that could shape the future of the industry. For example, one bill, Pennsylvania's Act 129, incentivizes electric distribution companies to be more energy efficient.
“Despite the win-win-win nature of energy efficiency, we still see barriers to widespread and deep adoption of energy efficiency,” said Boggs. “The foremost of these are upfront cost and education, and this is where policy can play an incredibly important role.”