A group that backs clean energy says Missouri has seen a 5% increase in green jobs over the past two years.
Environmental Entrepreneurs is a coalition of business owners and investors focused on the environment and the economy. Its Clean Jobs Midwest report provides a breakdown of clean energy across a 12-state region – Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.
Tony Wyche, the Missouri based consultant for Environmental Entrepreneurs, says the Show-Me state performs well among its peers in the Midwest.
“Missouri has actually, usually been fairly high among Midwest states for our rate of job growth,” says Wyche. “We’re actually seeing a lot of new generation and energy efficiency job that have been created in the state.”
According to the report, Missouri has 55,251 clean energy jobs. About 72.5% of those positions are in the energy efficiency sector, which includes contractors who handle heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems and system technicians.
Advanced transportation is the state’s second-biggest sector for clean jobs, providing 9,806 positions, accounting for 18% of the state’s total.
The advanced transportation industry includes hybrid and plug-in electric vehicles, plus those that are powered by fuel cells or alternative fuels. Missouri’s advanced transportation sector grew faster than any other state in the Midwest.
Renewable energy generation jobs also grew quickly, increasing 14.5% in the state, although the sector accounts for only 6.7% of the clean energy positions.
Missouri is particularly dependent on coal which fueled 81% of its electricity generation in 2017. Also, more coal is consumed for electricity generation in Missouri than in all but two other states.
In addition, a massive wind energy transmission line that would run through the state, the Grain Belt Express, is tied up in litigation in the courts.
According to Wyche, the construction and maintenance of the Grain Belt project would help boost renewable energy job numbers, as would the 39 cities in the state that have committed to purchasing wind power that would be passing through. Those communities include Columbia, Rolla, and Hannibal.
Springfield is in the process of acquiring 30% of its power from wind that’s coming from wind farms in Oklahoma.
But Wyche claims clean energy generation is actually growing very rapidly in the state, particularly in rural economies.
“What we’re seeing is that 99% of all wind generation, wind energy generation, comes from rural areas,” says Wyche. “And here in Missouri, the wind farms that we have are all in rural parts of the state in northwest and northeast Missouri.”
Even with the increase in clean power generation coming from rural areas, the coop power companies that largely provide electric energy to the low population areas are still 80% dependent on coal-fired plants.
Still, according to the report from Environmental Entrepreneurs, renewable energy generation is the third largest clean energy job sector in Missouri with 3,707 jobs. And like the rest of the 11 state Midwest region, Missouri renewable energy generation jobs grew the fastest of any sector, expanding by nearly 15% between 2015 and 2016 and adding 470 jobs.
Wyche thinks rural areas stand to benefits from the expansion of clean energy and believes elected office holders will play a key role in how it unfolds.
“Policymakers in Jefferson City and Washington D.C. need to remain committed to investment in policies that benefit rural Missouri and rural America through investment in green energy technology and energy efficiency.”
Wyche says two key federal programs support the development of clean energy in rural communities – the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Energy Assistance Program and the same agency’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Loan Program.
Environmental Entrepreneurs was founded in 2000 and is a partner of the Natural Resources Defense Council, which is a non-profit international environmental advocacy group.
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