Illinois is the number-one state in the Midwest for the amount jobs in the clean-energy field, according to a new report.
The Clean Jobs Midwest survey shows Illinois has the highest number of clean energy jobs out of 12 Midwestern states, at about 114,000.
Most of those jobs are in the energy-efficiency sector.
But the report’s findings aren’t all good news.
Gail Parson, Midwest advocate for Environmental Entrepreneurs, warns the state recently lost more than 150 solar jobs and more than 400 wind-power jobs.
“Illinois is one of those examples of a place with a sizable workforce, but again we’ve seen these loss in wind and solar jobs,” says Parson. “I think we can tie a pretty direct correlation to sort of broken policy in the state.”
The report’s authors suggest that Illinois should make changes to what’s known as the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard.
One idea is to remove Illinois’ spending cap on energy-efficiency programs, which, Parson argues, could help the state regain its lost solar and wind jobs.
More broadly, the research also shows clean energy is one of the fastest growing industries, with an estimated 25,000 new jobs expected to be added over the next year.
Parson says the Midwest has become a powerhouse for clean-energy careers.
“Many people may think of corn, or farms,” she says. “But the Midwest should be known for clean energy, contributing over half a million workers, certainly not fly-over country when it comes to the clean energy field.”
However, according to the survey, Illinois is not meeting its current energy efficiency goals.
Parson says more state investment in efficiency programs could help reach those benchmarks while helping residents save money on electricity bills.