Green economy growing faster than other employment

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(Host) A new study says jobs in Vermont’s green economy are growing faster than other areas of employment in the state.

The report by the Pew Charitable Trusts says Vermont has emerged as a national leader, with green job growth here outpacing the national average.

VPR’s John Dillon has more:

(Dillon)  The study measured job creation in a number of categories, including energy efficiency, and environmental consulting.

Kil Huh is project director for the Pew Charitable Trusts. He says Vermont has a diverse and growing green economic sector.

(Huh) "The majority of jobs are in the conservation and pollution mitigation category, which include jobs like recycling and the repurposing of waste in the production process. But it’s also got clear strengths in clean energy production and distribution as well as energy efficiency."

(Dillon) The Pew study found that between 1998 and 2007, Vermont’s green economy grew by about 15 percent, about twice the rate of overall job growth in the state. Growth in green jobs nationwide was 9 percent.

(Huh) "Vermont actually has one of the highest shares of jobs in the clean energy economy relative to total jobs nationwide. It’s created the policy environment, as well as the investor environment, to essentially poise it for explosive growth moving forward. And Vermont in that sense is an example for the rest of the country to follow."

(Dillon) One green company that’s experienced this explosive growth is groSolar in White River Junction. GroSolar distributes and installs solar energy systems around the country. Chief operating officer Jim Merriam says employment in Vermont has doubled in the last 18 months. The company has about 60 employees in the state.

(Merriam) "We’ve hired a lot of people to go out and actually install solar and put it on your roof or on your business. In a similar fashion, there are a lot of other jobs that are associated with that – accounting jobs, HR jobs, ancillary jobs that help support the installers, engineers. So not only is it just the jobs out in the field, but it actually creates another series of workers who help support those people."

(Dillon) Merriam says the state encourages solar development through a rebate program that helps offset the cost of installation. He says the future is bright, even in the down economy.

(Merriam) "We’re actually continuing to grow when there’s not a lot of other industries right now growing. And that right there shows you the strength right there. Two,  our jobs are local jobs. These are jobs that stay in the community. This about creating energy, literally, inside of Vermont."

(Dillon) Merriam says the success of his company shows that the state – and the nation – needs to do more to support the green economy.

For VPR News, I’m John Dillon.

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