Richard Tumushime, an electrician with Pittsburgh-based Energy Independent Solutions, works with a crew to put the finishing touches on wiring a solar panel system at the new Forest Hills Municipal Building.

Amy Sisk / StateImpact Pennsylvania

Report: Jobs in efficiency, renewables grow while clean transportation lags

  • Amy Sisk

A new report shows that jobs in most parts of Pennsylvania’s clean energy industry grew over the past year.

The industry supports 86,000 jobs, which is a 2 percent increase over the previous year, according to the report from E2, a group of business leaders and investors who advocate for environmental policies.

Three-quarters of those jobs fall into the energy efficiency category. They include jobs like installing Energy Star-rated air conditioners, working with homeowners and businesses to identify ways to save electricity or heat, and assembling water heaters that use little energy.

Renewable energy, such as wind and solar power, makes up the next biggest segment.

The numbers stem from a national report that analyzes federal jobs data, in conjunction with a survey of business leaders. E2 updated the methodology it uses to match the 2018 U.S. Energy and Employment Report, and relied on the new methodology to calculate updated numbers for last year’s jobs, so as to make an accurate comparison to this year’s data.

Several parts of Pennsylvania’s clean energy industry saw job losses over the past year, which mirrors a national trend, said Phil Jordan of BW Research Partnership, who was involved with the report.

They include jobs in fuels such as ethanol and other biofuels. Jordan said the focus on clean transportation over the past decade has shifted away from fuels in favor of all-electric vehicles.

Furthermore, Pennsylvania experienced a 22 percent drop in clean vehicle jobs over the past year.

“Foreign competition is accelerating, and consumers are increasingly selecting foreign-manufactured clean vehicles,” he said.

Pennsylvania ranks 11th overall in clean energy jobs, according to the E2 report. Environmental advocates say the ranking shows a need for stronger clean energy policies, like a higher requirement for renewable power generation.

“Pennsylvania is on this cusp for becoming one of America’s top states for working in clean energy,” E2’s Sharon Pillar said. “The report is a wakeup call for Pennsylvania’s leaders and businesses that Pennsylvania’s clean economy has significant room for improvement in order to compete with neighboring states.”