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    Green jobs expected to grow in Indiana


    August 15, 2022 - Karl Schneider

     

      Job growth rose back to pre-pandemic levels in July and last year's $1.2 billion federal investment in infrastructure jobs is setting the stage for a potential influx in green jobs for Hoosiers.

      Already, the automotive industry is accelerating toward electric vehicles and Indiana is devising how to best spend $100 million for the EV infrastructure.

      The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, which the U.S. Senate passed Sunday, promises to provide tax credits that would create thousands of jobs in the clean energy industry, including manufacturing and construction of solar, wind and clean hydrogen projects.

      "Now, let me be clear: This bill would be the most significant legislation in history to tackle the climate crisis and improve our energy security right away," President Joe Biden said of the bill. "And it'll give us a tool to meet the climate goals that are set — that we've agreed to — by cutting emissions and accelerating clean energy. A huge step forward.

      These culminating forces led us at the Scrub Hub to try and answer this question: What are the green job prospects looking like for the future of Indiana?

      We combed through federal, state and nonprofit reports to find out where the most potential is for green job growth in the state, and what sectors will see the most growth.

      Short answer

      Green jobs are on the rise in Indiana. While some utility companies across the state are shuttering coal plants, plans to expand alternative energy sources are on the rise.

      These new jobs will help partially offset those lost as coal-fired plants close.

      The Indiana Energy Policy Development Task Force in 2020 reported about 1,650 jobs would be created by 2030 as the transition away from coal continues.

      "If the employment impacts of these alternative energy sources reach this upper limit, it would represent 69% of the estimated statewide job losses linked to the four coal plant closures," the report says.

      These expanding alternative energy plants will also provide large, short-term, construction jobs "as well as tax revenue and payments to landowners," the report continues.

      Jobs in the solar industry also are expected to increase anywhere from 10% to 15%, according to a July report from the Interstate Renewable Energy Council.

      The IREC's report, National Solar Jobs Census 2021, found there were between 3,000-5,000 solar jobs in the state last year, and says growth in the field is due, in part to coal plant retirements, national policy action and corporate interest in renewable energy.

      The majority of job growth in the solar industry was in installation and project development sector, which grew 9.5% nationwide in 2021. Solar energy is the fastest growing renewable energy source in the U.S., the IREC's report says. Solar installations made up 46% of all new electricity generating capacity in 2021.

      Long answer

      But green jobs aren't all shuffled into the clean energy space.

      WorkingNation, a nonprofit focused on solutions for a thriving middle class, released in July a promising report saying green jobs for Hoosiers would grow 29.2% in the next five years, which is far above the national average of 5.7%

      "While we see demand across Indiana for green workers, the greatest concentration is in the Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson metropolitan area," the report says. "The uptick in green job demand in 2021 as compared to previous years in Indiana is an indication that the green economy in the state is strengthening."

      The report lays out four types of green jobs:

      Core jobs: solar engineers, hydroelectric engineers and energy efficiency specialists

      Green-enabled jobs: HVAC installers working with energy efficient systems and the engineers building those systems

      Green-enabling jobs: marketing managers at a solar or other alternative energy company

      Potential green jobs: maintenance, techs and engineers

      There are currently more than 11,000 workers in the state's green economy, the report says, and about 3,500 job openings for green positions were listed in 2021. The demand for wind turbine technicians is largely responsible for the large growth Hoosiers could see in the green job sector.

      WorkingNation found there are roughly 1.1 million Hoosiers who could transition into green jobs. Retraining could "build the pipeline of green workers faster than relying on new postsecondary graduates alone," the report says.

      Workers moving into green jobs may also see a boost to salaries. The average salary for a green job is just above $60,000.

      "The most demanded skills related to the green economy in Indiana are energy conservation, energy efficiency, and renewable energy knowledge," the report says. "Many of these same green skills offer strong salary boosts across roles, the highest being carbon management, which commands an average salary boost of over $24,000 annually and others, such as carbon reduction commanding nearly $2,000 annually."

      The report recommends individuals learn skills and prepare for green jobs that are already going strong in the state.

      "There are many jobs across the economy that offer lucrative, sustainable career opportunities and support the transition to greener forms of energy generation and usage, water usage, construction techniques, and transportation strategies," the report says.

      Employers should focus on reskilling workers and identifying what jobs across the organization will be transitioning into the green sector.

      The report goes on to suggest policy makers should be investing in workers who may be able to gain green skills by funding training programs for the growing demand of workers.

      "This may mean supporting reskilling programs for workers at risk of disruption — such as those in declining fields or energy industries that may be replaced by greener forms of energy generation — so these workers may be redeployed into more sustainable green jobs," the report says.

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