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Michigan experiences growth in clean energy jobs, report says

 King Orchards has solar panels, which McAvoy said to do their part and help them reduce their emissions.
Teresa Homsi
Solar panels at King Orchards

A new report found that Michigan is leading the Midwest in clean energy jobs.

Business leaders and Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II met Tuesday to discuss the economic opportunities for investing in renewable energy.

Nearly 124,000 Michiganders work in clean energy. This 2022 number is up by 4.6% from the previous year, and it's expected to grow even more, according to the latest Clean Jobs Report.

The report breaks down the clean energy industry into five sectors: renewable energy, energy efficiency, clean vehicles, storage and grid and biofuels.

Gilchrist said the report affirms the state is on the "right path" in expanding clean energy industries.

"The way that we can mitigate climate change is through innovation, partnership and ideas," Gilchrist said. "And those ideas will help us to build solutions that will help us to create jobs. They will help us to grow our economic vitality, bring more people to the state of Michigan and help grow our population."

Lauding the state's MI Healthy Climate Plan, Gilchrist said the state is supporting investment in rural areas (with 16,000 jobs) and small businesses (with fewer than 20 employees), which account for 75% of the state's clean energy businesses.

"These are some of the smallest businesses in our community that are having some of the biggest impact for our economy and our environment," Gilchrist said.

Micaela Preskill is with E-2, the business group that developed the report. She said there are now six times more workers in clean energy than all of Michigan's lawyers, web developers and real estate agents combined.

"Now the industry's growth is expected to continue as federal climate investments bring in new clean energy projects," Preskill said, referencing the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act. "With strong state policy, growth is even more certain."

The biggest clean energy sector in Michigan is energy efficiency with 75,085 employees. However, transportation, due to the rise of electric vehicles, is the state's fastest growing clean energy industry after experiencing a 14.4% increase in its workforce from the previous year.

Representatives from SEEL, FLO, Harvest Solar and the Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council also praised the industry's expansion at the Tuesday event.

Teresa Homsi is an environmental reporter and Report for America Corps Member based in northern Michigan for WCMU. She covers rural environmental issues, focused on contamination, conservation, and climate change.
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