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Report: Florida lags in clean-energy jobs

More than 130,000 Floridians work at about 14,000 clean energy businesses across the state. But that’s just 1.5 percent of all jobs in Florida, a small per-capita number when compared to other states studied, according to a Florida clean jobs census released Wednesday by a trio of business organizations.

While 130,000 is a big number, “we believe this is only a drop in the bucket to what this state can be,” said Bob Keefe, executive director of Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2), which released “Clean Jobs Florida: Sizing Up Florida’s Clean Energy Jobs Base and its Potential” with the Florida Alliance for Renewable Energy and the Florida Chapter of the Energy Services Coalition. “Florida is a state that is not living up to its potential.”

By contrast, states such as Vermont, Illinois and Massachusetts have significantly more clean-energy jobs per capita than the Sunshine State, Keefe said.

The majority of Florida’s clean energy jobs – about 100,000 or about 75 percent – are in energy efficiency, the report found, and the state lags significantly in renewable energy jobs. A notable 1,693 work in renewable fuels and fuel cells, and solar is the top renewable energy employer with 7,100 workers.

“With an existing [solar] industry that is significantly smaller than other states, and a potential for development that is significantly larger than other states, the gap between our current state and our future potential is staggering,” said Mike Antheil, founding executive director of the Florida Alliance for Renewable Energy in West Palm Beach. “Now is the time to implement clean energy policies,” as outlined in the  federal Clean Power Plan announced in June, he said.

Other report findings:

* Florida’s clean energy businesses are growing faster than other parts of the state’s economy. Over the past year, clean energy jobs grew by more than 6 percent, with 9 percent job growth expected in 2015.

*  Nearly half of all new hires in the state’s clean energy sector were reported to be ethnic or racial minorities and a quarter were women. Nearly 70 percent of the ethnic or racial minority new hires were Hispanic.

* The majority of the 14,000 clean energy businesses in the state are small businesses — two-thirds are under 10 employees.

The report is available at www.cleanjobsflorida.com