Massachusetts upped its installed solar megawatts 30 times over and grew its energy efficiency savings 108 percent from 2007 to 2011, according to a new report that puts the credit on state and local policies. And the result of that success, according to the newest numbers from the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC), is a steady expansion of green jobs.
Massachusetts is the second biggest renewables investor and the highest per-capita investor among U.S. states, and a hotbed of research -- companies in the state have received 17 percent ($62.8 million) of U.S. Department of Energy ARPA-E program funding for potentially transformative energy research.
At the same time, Massachusetts has instituted a range of progressive renewable energy policies. It has a renewable energy standard with a solar carve-out, an energy efficiency resource standard, a solar renewable energy credits (SRECs) market, an array of tax policies, rebates, streamlined permitting standards, a list of green cities and municipalities, and a PACE provision, just to name the big ones.
This policy push has clearly worked.
In 2011, 4,908 clean energy firms in Massachusetts employed 64,310 clean energy workers. That was 1.5 percent of all the state’s jobs. From 2010 to 2011, green jobs grew at a rate of 6.7 percent, six times faster than the overall economy’s jobs.
In 2012, despite the still-sluggish economy, those numbers increased: 4,955 firms employed 71,523, 1.7 percent of the state’s jobs. From 2011 to 2012, green jobs grew at a rate of 11.2 percent, ten times faster than the state’s 1.2 percent industrial sector job growth.
The MassCEC defines a clean energy firm as “an employer engaged in whole or in part in providing goods and services related to renewable energy, energy efficiency, alternative transportation, and carbon management.”
The definition of workers in green jobs is employees that are “spending at least a portion of their time supporting the clean energy aspects of their businesses.”
“Employers are also optimistic about their future prospects, anticipating 12.4% growth over the coming 12 months,” the MassCEC reported. And the 2012 numbers are “large enough to warrant considering the clean energy cluster a key sector in Massachusetts.”