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Study: 12,000 Wis. Jobs Tied To Renewable Energy

Wed, 10/26/2011 - 5:30am

The Environmental Law and Policy Center's new study of Wisconsin's solar and wind energy supply chain finds that 171 Wisconsin companies are part of the wind energy supply chain and 135 Wisconsin companies are part of the solar energy supply chain.

The solar and wind industries provide over 12,000 jobs in Wisconsin. This job growth has been supported for years by utility incentives and state policies like Wisconsin's Renewable Portfolio Standard and Focus on Energy Program. However, Wisconsin's recent political and policy shifts have undermined clean energy development and job creation.

"Wind and solar energy development have created new jobs and business growth that Wisconsin needs," said Howard Learner, Executive Director of the Environmental Law & Policy Center. "With over 250 local companies ready to grow, Wisconsin's leaders should be looking for ways to advance public policies that encourage renewable energy development and progress in the state."

ELPC surveyed businesses statewide to identify Wisconsin companies that are actively participating in the renewable energy supply chain. The list includes steelmakers, electrical component manufacturers, engineering firms and other longstanding businesses that are profiting from renewable energy development, as well as start-ups and small businesses developing cutting edge clean energy technology. For example:

Caleffi sells solar thermal systems and components from its Milwaukee office. "Solar is a real job creator in Wisconsin and across the United States and one of the biggest generators of growth for Caleffi," said Rex Gillespie Caleffi's Director of Marketing.

Oshkosh-based wind manufacturing company Renewegy builds and installs light commercial wind turbines. The company plans to add 50 new employees in the coming years. "Not only do we manufacture and employ workers here in Oshkosh, but 90 percent of our components are sourced from Midwestern partners," said Dana Enz, Renewegy's VP of Sales. "As we grow, they grow."

Smart state and local policies can make a big difference in creating economic development and new jobs for the solar and wind sector. Helios recently opened Wisconsin's first solar panel manufacturing plant in Milwaukee. Low-interest loans provided by the state and the City of Milwaukee convinced Helios to locate in Wisconsin. "The Midwest is getting close to becoming a real solar hotspot," said Helios' General Manager Brent Brucker. "A little more foresight on the part of a state legislatures and this region could really take off."

As part of its effort to promote economic growth and environmental progress through clean energy development, ELPC has also completed wind and solar supply chain studies for Illinois, Iowa, Michigan and Ohio. Across these five states, ELPC has identified more than 1,000 clean energy businesses employing over 50,000 people.

To download a copy of the report visit www.elpc.org/WisconsinEnergy.

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