Want a Green Job? Head to Colorado

Colorado is even putting solar panels on mountains. (Photo: Christine Warner [CC BY 2.0]/Flickr)

Clean energy jobs are on the rise. Between the availability of Recovery Act dollars and the Obama Administration’s focus on a clean energy economy, jobs in the industry are only going to continue to increase.

Although the majority of the nation is just really catching the clean energy momentum, Colorado has been riding the green jobs wave for several years now. The state is home to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), solar firms, wind turbine manufacturers, and others focused on clean energy technologies.

NREL funding has almost doubled under the Obama Administration. “The complex of labs in the dun-colored foothills northeast of the city is growing. NREL is using $66 million in stimulus money to erect a new building that will stand as living proof that green design can be economical. With its solar panels and ultra-efficient systems, the building could generate as much electricity as it uses.” Source: Slate

In 2007, Colorado Governor Bill Ritter signed House Bill 1281 which mandated the use of renewable energy by the state’s utility companies. The legislation requires the state’s major utility companies to provide 20% of their electricity through renewable energy by 2020 while smaller electric providers will need to achieve a 10% renewable energy rate.

A recently published study from The Pew Charitable Trusts tracked clean energy jobs over the past decade. Growth in the renewable energy industry has greatly outpaced traditional jobs. In 2007, there were 1,778 clean businesses in Colorado that accounted for more than 17,000 jobs in the state. Job growth in the clean energy industry was 18.2% between 1998 and 2007, a drastic difference from the 8.2% overall job growth seen during the same time period.

So, if you’re looking for a green job, moving to Colorado might not be a bad idea.