Island Set To Shine As Clean-Energy Employment Soars

Gregory Zeller for Innovate Long Island

Originally published in Innovate Long Island

Good news for research-rich, offshore-open Long Island: New York’s clean-energy economy is growing at more than double the rate of the overall state economy.

So says the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, which on Tuesday announced an 8.9 percent growth in statewide clean energy-related employment since 2016 – exceeding 158,000 employees in 2019, according to NYSERDA, and still climbing.

These and other impressive numbers await in the state’s 2019 Clean Energy Industry Report, which vaunts the “nation-leading clean energy and jobs agenda” at the heart of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Green New Deal.

Among the standout figures: more than 123,000 statewide jobs focused on energy efficiency, representing about 77 percent of all clean-energy jobs, and a 35 percent employee growth rate for New York grid-modernization and energy-storage firms, burying the national employee growth rate of 7 percent.

With numbers like that, it’s no surprise NYSERDA’s annual clean-energy report – which studies employment, geographic distribution and employee needs to reveal important patterns related to the state’s climate and job-creation goals – found “strong clean-energy workforce opportunities” in every region of the state.

And that’s no accident, according to New York State Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon, who noted concerted efforts across Albany’s corridors of power to drive employment in this critical sector.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with NYSERDA to help support New York’s growing clean-energy economy,” Reardon said Tuesday. “This work is vitally important to making Gov. Cuomo’s Green New Deal a reality, and will benefit workers and our environment for generations to come.”

All of this is wonderful news for Long Island, an emerging clean-energy epicenter. Not only is NYSERDA serving as administrator of the National Offshore Wind R&D Consortium – featuring a bevy of Island-based power players, in cahoots with an international assortment of wind-generation contributors – but ongoing research at major-league institutions like Brookhaven National Laboratory and Stony Brook University’s Advanced Energy Research and Technology Center regularly move the clean-energy ball.

Coastal Long Island’s advantageous positioning in this rapidly growing economy is not lost on its Albany delegation, including State Sen. Todd Kaminsky (D-Rockville Centre) and Assemblyman Steven Englebright (D-East Setauket), chairmen of the Senate and Assembly Environmental Conservation committees, respectively.

New York “is poised to become the focal point of a 21st century green economy,” Kaminsky said Tuesday, while Englebright referenced Albany’s new climate law – signed by Cuomo in June and currently rolling out – as a winning environmental strategy with economic benefits that seem destined to multiply.

“New York State is leading the way toward a cleaner, healthier environment, and as a result is realizing the benefits of new green jobs,” Englebright added. “I expect as the new Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act is implemented, this trend will expand and accelerate.”