Before COVID-19, clean energy jobs were the fastest-growing part of America’s workforce – growing 2X faster than the rest of the economy.
Nearly 3.4 million Americans worked in energy efficiency, renewable energy, clean vehicles and fuels at the end of last year.
Since then, more than half-a-million clean energy workers (514,000) have lost their jobs. These are Americans in every state who work in construction, manufacturing, technology and finance. They’re electricians and HVAC technicians. Solar and wind installers and engineers. Factory workers building Energy Star appliances and air conditioners, LED lighting systems, electric vehicles and efficient building materials.
Clean energy is the smart way to build our economy back better, faster and more equitably. Clean energy creates more jobs across more occupations in more states than just about any sector of our economy. History shows investing in clean energy is the best and fastest way to jump-start our economy, and polls overwhelmingly show Americans want our elected officials to do more to advance solar, wind and energy efficiency. And done right, clean energy can create new opportunities for all Americans – including people of color who are currently underrepresented in clean energy fields.
Congress Must Act—NOW
Below are examples of programs that would help get the half-a-million Americans part of this huge and important sector back to work.
Nearly 413,500 energy efficiency workers filed for unemployment in March-April. To get them back to work Congress should:
- Resurrect the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant program for states that can be used to immediately launch job-intensive renewable energy projects and energy efficiency programs for K-12 schools and municipal buildings
- Expand the Weatherization Assistance Program, which provides funding for cost-saving energy efficiency upgrades for low-income households. The program has supported more than 8,000 jobs and provides weatherization services to 35,000 homes every year.
- Launch national efforts to improve energy efficiency at the nation’s 130,000 schools, 800 military bases and other “mission critical” public buildings.
See E2’s complete policy recommendations here
More than 95,500 solar, wind and other renewable energy workers filed for unemployment in March April. To get them back to work, Congress should:
- Reinstate the Section 1603 program to deliver payments directly to clean energy developers and suppliers now, rather than make them wait to claim these credits in tax filings. And expand the program to cover energy storage projects.
- Extend the Production Tax Credit (PTC) and Investment Tax Credit (ITC) for wind and solar, and incentivize offshore wind and energy storage.
- Stop clean energy incentive phasedowns for a multiyear period to account for COVID-19 related economic and workforce impacts. The phasedown of federal renewable support should be adjusted to reflect COVID-driven delays.
SEE E2’s complete policy recommendations here.
CLEAN ENERGY INFRASTRUCTURE & INNOVATION
Nearly 73,000 workers in grid modernization, storage and electric vehicles filed for unemployment in March-April. To get them back to work, Congress should:
- Investin clean cars and clean vehicle infrastructure as outlined in the Clean Corridors Act of 2019 and the EV Freedom Act to create EV manufacturing jobs expand the nation’s electric vehicle charging and clean fuel networks.
- Invest in upgrading our nation’s 200,000-miles of electricity transmission lines to make them safer, more resilient, more efficient.
- Properly fund key energy research and development projects to keep America competitive, such as the Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E).
SEE E2’s complete policy recommendations here.
Clean Energy Unemployment
Claims Skyrocket in COVID-19 Aftermath
The job losses are across a wide variety of occupations, and in every state.
Energy efficiency workers are losing their jobs after being shut out of homes and buildings to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Solar and wind turbine companies are laying off workers as they’re unable to access panels and parts stranded in shut-down factories and as financing disappears.
Factory workers are being let go as assembly lines for Energy Star appliances and electric and hybrid vehicles are ground to a halt.
Reaction from the Frontlines
Despite how far the clean energy sector has come over the last five years, the economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis is quickly devastating businesses, workers, and project from coast to coast.
As lawmakers look to reinvigorate our economy and get America back to work, E2 surveyed its 8,000 members and supporters nationwide about how they’re being impacted, and how public policy could help.
This is the new reality their operations and workers are facing. In their own words:
Founder, Revalue.io, California
“We had 5 residential retrofit projects that were supposed to begin … but cannot due to the shutdown, as well as 1 warehouse project. Much of our work is in workforce development, as we train high school, college and other adults in energy efficiency technology. We now have to alter our training plans and reduce our outreach and business development.”
CEO, Scout Clean Energy, Colorado
“As I talk to banks … they are in a panic situation that I haven’t seen since 2008.”
COO, The Energy Group, Iowa
“Projects are getting delayed because we don’t have access to buildings. This is impacting cashflow and we are potentially going to face layoffs. We are working to avoid that, and it will depend on the duration of this disruption.”
Founder, Energy Optimizers, Ohio
“We have terminated the employment of approximately 25 percent of our personnel. We have had over $10 million of projects halt moving forward, impacting the jobs of at least 150 people.”
VP of Policy and Business Development, Lime Energy, New Jersey
“We are devastated by the coronavirus. Nothing we do is considered ‘critical service’ so installing energy efficiency and solar panels in California is completely shut down. We can’t go into apartment units to do energy audits or efficiency upgrades in NYC. We are facing substantial furloughs for staff and pay cuts for the ones who aren’t furloughed.”