October 15, 2019 | Justin Brant
As SWEEP reported earlier, energy efficiency jobs are booming in the Southwest, growing almost 5% between 2017 and 2018 according to the 2019 U.S Energy and Employment report. Increasing energy efficiency reduces greenhouse gas emissions, saves customers money on their energy bills, and provides a significant source of employment.
A new report provides more detail on the key role of energy efficiency jobs in the Southwest and highlights the differences among states based on recent policy and regulatory changes. The report shows the direct link between the states that are actively supporting energy efficiency and the job benefits provided by the industry. It’s no surprise that Colorado, Nevada, and New Mexico all saw their ranking increase (or maintained at a high level in the case of Colorado) in the ACEEE State Energy Efficiency Scorecard and were also three of the states with the highest growth in number of energy efficiency jobs in the nation.
All three of these states have recently put into place new policies that support increased energy efficiency and committed to ambitious clean energy and climate change goals.
For example, in Colorado the Public Utility Commission has increased energy efficiency savings goals and budgets for both of the state’s investor owned utilities, while the state legislature established minimum energy and water standards for a number of products, increased minimum building energy codes, and established ambitious greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets.
In the last year the Nevada legislature also passed minimum energy efficiency standards for lightbulbs, building on legislative and regulatory efforts to increase energy efficiency savings over the past few years. And in New Mexico the legislature established new energy efficiency savings requirements for utilities and increased the cap on energy efficiency budgets.
While the growth in energy efficiency jobs has been most pronounced in the states that are actively supporting energy efficiency, jobs in energy efficiency are growing throughout the region, providing significant employment and benefits to communities.
The 2019 report found that across the region, 26% of all jobs in the energy sector are related to improving energy efficiency, providing more jobs than mining for oil, gas, coal, and other resources across the region. In addition, energy efficiency jobs grew at a faster rate between 2017 and 2018 than both the energy industry as a whole and jobs in the mining industry. In a region known for its oil and gas production as well as its coal mining, energy efficiency is now the largest class of jobs in the energy sector in the Southwest!
The energy efficiency industry also provides a significant source of employment for veterans in the Southwest. Veterans make-up 11% of all energy efficiency jobs in the Southwest, providing over 14,500 jobs to veterans across the region.
Overall, energy efficiency continues to provide a significant source of employment for the region. However, as shown by these recent data, it is important to create a policy and regulatory environment that actively supports energy efficiency in order to maximize the jobs impact.