Report: 62,000 clean-energy workers in Colorado

DENVER — Boulder, Larimer and Weld counties are among Colorado’s top 10 counties for clean-energy jobs, according to a report released Friday by Environmental Entrepreneurs, a national, nonpartisan business group.

In metro areas, the Denver-Aurora area has 46,000 residents working in clean energy, followed by Boulder, 2,700 jobs, and Fort Collins-Loveland, nearly 2,400. The more rural and agricultural swaths of the state are home to nearly 6,000 clean-energy workers.

The report, called Clean Jobs Colorado, said that 62,000 people in Colorado work in the clean-energy sector. The report is based on U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics information and new data from the U.S. Department of Energy, as well as a survey completed by hundreds of businesses across Colorado.

The analysis was conducted for Environmental Entrepreneurs by BW Research Partnership. It includes detailed jobs data down to the county, metropolitan area, congressional and state legislative district levels.

The report was previewed Friday morning at the Colorado State Capitol by legislators and business leaders gathering in Denver for the start of the 2017 legislative session.

According to the report, clean energy is a bipartisan issue, with thousands of jobs in both red and blue areas of the state. Over the next year, clean-energy employers are expecting to hire nearly 1,500 additional workers — a 2 percent growth rate.

Energy efficiency is the state’s largest clean-energy employer, with more than 40,000 Coloradans working in industries such as high-efficiency lighting, Energy Star appliance manufacturing and high-efficiency HVAC services that reduce wasted energy in homes, schools and businesses.

More than 14,000 Coloradans work in renewable energy, including nearly 7,000 in solar and about 6,500 in wind.

There are clean energy jobs in every county in Colorado. The top 10 counties are Denver, Arapahoe, Jefferson, Adams, Douglas, Boulder, Larimer, Weld, El Paso and Mesa.

Colorado’s Renewable Portfolio Standard, or RPS, requires investor-owned utilities to source 30 percent of their electricity from renewables. That standard is set to expire in 2020. The report also identifies gaps in the state’s energy-efficiency policies. E2 recommends that lawmakers boost energy-savings goals for all utilities to 2 percent annually, and extend those goals beyond 2020.

The report calls on utilities to incentivize electric-vehicle ownership by installing more EV infrastructure and encouraging car charging during hours of low energy demand.

“With so much uncertainty in Washington, states like Colorado really need to lead on industries of the future like clean energy,” said Susan Nedell of Louisville, who serves as Environmental Entrepreneurs’ Rocky Mountains advocate. “We have a long track record of leadership in this space. Fortunately, the legislature has a big opportunity this year to lock in strong clean-energy policies that will grow our economy and protect our environment for years to come.”