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Connecticut's Clean Economy Behind, But Catching Up

State Ranks 29th In Positions Related To Benefiting The Environment


July 13, 2011

Who's the greenest of them all?

Connecticut ranks 29th in the overall size of its clean or "green" economy, according to a Brookings Institution report released Wednesday.

The state has 29,751 clean jobs — positions related to advancing a cleaner environment. That's 1.8 percent of all the jobs in the state.

Among states, Connecticut's economy ranks 33rd as a measure of clean jobs per capita. Massachusetts, by comparison, ranks 26th with 63,523 clean jobs, or 2 percent of the state's total jobs, according to the report, "Sizing the Clean Economy: A National and Regional Green Jobs Assessment."

The report ranks 100 metropolitan areas and each state in terms of size, concentration, growth and export value of its clean economy.

"One of the keys to building a clean sector and clean jobs is to have steady financial and regulatory support. People need to know what to expect, to have some comfort in making investment decisions," said Steve Kaufman, board member of Wilton-based Alteris Renewables, which was recently acquired by Real GoodsSolar Inc.

Business dried up when a state program that provided incentives to homes and businesses to employ solar energy was curtailed, Kaufman said. "Funding was not renewed because Gov. [M. Jodi] Rell vetoed the bill. We had to lay some people off. … We and other installers suffered."

Now, Kaufman hopes that new legislation, backed by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and other lawmakers, that restores solar and wind energy funding will revitalize the industry.

"We're hopeful that it will boost the economy, boost green jobs. We will resume hiring. We're very excited about it," said Kaufman, who joined other top executives from clean energy companies in Washington, D.C., Wednesday to discuss the state of the clean energy industry and related policies as part of the New England Clean Energy Council.

The largest number of the state's clean jobs, 13,712 positions, are in metro Hartford. Metro New Haven has 5,636 clean jobs and metro Bridgeport has 6,266 jobs.

The median annual wage in the state's clean economy sector is $45,802, slightly higher than the $45,224 median for all jobs.

From 2003 to 2010, the state added 7,210 clean jobs for an annual growth rate of 4 percent, far faster than the overall rate of job growth in the state.

Nationally, the annual growth rate for that same period was 3.4 percent, slightly behind the 4.2 percent growth rate of the overall economy.

A sampling of Connecticut's green employers includes Country Pure Foods Inc. (organic food and farming), Covanta Energy (waste to energy) in the Hartford area; H&T Waterbury (electric vehicle technologies), Proton Energy Systems Inc. (fuel cells) in the New Haven area and FuelCell Energy Inc. and Duracell Inc. in the Bridgeport area, the report said.

But estimating the size of the green economy is tricky — the mirror can be cloudy — as Brookings readily acknowledges. For example, thousands of engineers at Pratt & Whitney in East Hartford work on advancing fuel efficiency for jet engines, but may not be considered part of the so-called green economy.

" 'Green' or 'clean' activities and jobs related to environmental aims pervade all sectors of the U.S. economy," making it difficult to define them and count them, the report said. Because no comprehensive national database of those jobs exists, the Brookings Institution created a detailed map of the nation's clean economy, covering the years 2003 to 2010 for every county in the U.S., the first comprehensive geographic study of its kind.

Nationwide, the clean economy employs about 2.7 million people, more than the fossil-fuel industry and twice the size of the biosciences sector. About 26 percent of those jobs are in manufacturing, compared to 9 percent of the overall economy. The value of exports on a per-job basis, is twice that of the typical job.

"Many consumers are willing to pay a premium for clean products as varied as organic food, green buildings and electric cars," said Jonathan Rothwell, senior research analyst with Brookings and one of the report's authors.

The report recommends that states adopt clean energy standards and promote energy efficiency and the state and federal government should boost the sector's financing with tax reforms and the creation of risk-tolerant finance entities. "Market challenges and policy uncertainty [are] hindering the sector's ability to keep pace with other nations." For example, China's investment in its clean energy economy last year was more than double the United States'.

Other highlights of the report:

—The clean economy offers greater opportunity and better pay for low-and-middle skilled workers than the national economy as a whole.

—In 2009, clean economy firms generated nearly $54 billion in goods and services exports.

For the full report, go to:


Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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