Clean energy jobs top 100K in Ill., report says

By Jeffrey Tomich | 05/06/2015 09:02 AM EDT

Clean energy jobs in Illinois grew nearly 8 percent over the last 15 months, putting the total number of jobs related to energy efficiency, renewable energy and alternative fuels above 100,000, according to a survey released yesterday.

While the growth rate far exceeds the state’s rate as a whole, there’s significant potential to further accelerate economic growth in the sector if the right policies are put in place, said Amy Francetic, chief executive of the Clean Energy Trust, a Chicago-based clean energy startup accelerator.

A similar report last year projected a cumulative job-growth rate greater than 9 percent (EnergyWire, March 20, 2014).


"The industry is growing, but not at the rate that it could be," Francetic said during a telephone briefing with reporters. "Policy uncertainty contributed to the sector underperforming previous growth projections."

Key findings of yesterday’s report include:

  • The largest and fastest-growing segment of Illinois’ clean energy industry is energy efficiency, which represents about two-thirds of all clean energy jobs in the state.
  • 20 percent of clean energy jobs are in renewable energy.
  • More than half of businesses in the clean energy sector have 10 or fewer employees.

The survey was conducted by BW Research Partnership, which spoke with 1,314 business establishments throughout a wide spectrum of industries in Illinois to quantify clean energy activity.

Beside the Clean Energy Trust, groups that commissioned the survey include the Joyce Foundation, the Energy Foundation, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Environmental Law and Policy Center, and Environmental Entrepreneurs.

While the results represent a snapshot in time, they will be used as a key exhibit in the current energy policy debate at the Illinois capital.

The Clean Energy Trust and some of the other groups that commissioned the report are part of the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition, a group of environmental, renewable energy and consumer advocates pushing for expansion of the state’s renewable energy and efficiency standards.

The measures backed by the group represent one of three broad energy bills being debated in the current legislative session, which adjourns at the end of the month. The other two measures were authored by Exelon Corp. and its utility subsidiary, Commonwealth Edison.