Clean energy is not only the wave of the future, it has become a job-booster across the nation and especially right here in Minnesota.
According to Clean Energy Economy Minnesota, the state gained 2,892 jobs related to clean energy last year, a growth rate almost four times faster than the rest of the economy. The clean-energy sector now employs 57,000 people in the state, including about 1,000 people in Stearns County.
Clean-energy jobs are those that involve wind power, solar power, electric vehicles, energy efficiency and alternative fuels. They are also good-paying jobs with an average annual salary of $70,000. Related jobs can be found in manufacturing, engineering, construction, maintenance, sales and more.
Clean energy is obviously a win-win for everybody – not just for the companies themselves and their employees. We all benefit via the cleaner air and water we share, on lower energy costs for those who subscribe to clean-energy utility options.
The burgeoning of clean energy is a triumph of innovations, efficiency, good old-fashioned American practicality and a growing awareness of conservation to preserve our precious planet.
A person doesn’t have to drive very far in central Minnesota to see vast tracts of solar panels – dubbed solar farms or solar gardens. Large installations can be seen near St. Joseph and just off Hwy. 15 in east Sartell, and there are many smaller but substantial solar installations throughout the three counties, including many on businesses, public buildings or homes. Many more installations are being considered by cities and businesses. Schools also feature installations for solar or wind power, which double as learning opportunities for students.
All of us are seeing the clean-energy future galloping toward the present. Other countries, including pollution-plagued China, are also seeing the light, the happy inevitability that life on Earth will be utterly dependent on clean-energy methods.
Feisty factions can debate until doomsday whether human activities cause climate change, but the clean-energy movement transcends that debate because clean air and clean water are good outcomes. Pollution is not a good outcome, period.
Some grinches still sneer and scoff at environmental concerns, denigrating them as old starry-eyed hippy notions. But as nomads often say, “The dogs bark, but the caravan moves on.” Meantime, tremendous clean-energy programs continue to be implemented here, there and everywhere. A kind of grassroots wisdom about clean-energy has taken root.
Let’s be proud Minnesota has become a leader for the nation in that respect. And, not to forget, here in this state, at least, there has been vigorous bipartisan support for so many clean-energy initiatives. Are you listening, U.S. Congress?
Author: Dennis Dalman
Dalman was born and raised in South St. Cloud, graduated from St. Cloud Tech High School, then graduated from St. Cloud State University with a degree in English (emphasis on American and British literature) and mass communications (emphasis on print journalism). He studied in London, England for a year (1980-81) where he concentrated on British literature, political science, the history of Great Britain and wrote a book-length study of the British writer V.S. Naipaul. Dalman has been a reporter and weekly columnist for more than 30 years and worked for 16 of those years for the Alexandria Echo Press.