Nebraska added 750 clean energy jobs in 2022, report found

Oct. 18, 2023, 2 p.m. ·

Several wind turbines in a landscape picture, with fog floating beneath them.
Wind turbines at the Ainsworth Wind Energy Facility. Nebraska's clean energy industry added jobs in 2022, one analysis of employment data found, and is poised for more growth in the years ahead. (Photo courtesy of Nebraska Public Power District)

Nebraska clean energy jobs grew by four percent in 2022, according to an analysis of employment data by two environmental firms. That’s more than twice as fast as the overall economy.

The industry now employs nearly 20,000 workers, with more than half of those jobs in the energy efficiency sector.

Interest in energy savings – which includes installing things like efficient appliances, lighting and HVAC – has been growing in the wake of incentives from the Inflation Reduction Act.

Cory Fuehrer with Nebraska Public Power District said he’s seen more requests for heat pumps, which save on energy by using electricity to heat and cool buildings.

And as the federal government rolls out more funding and tax incentives for clean energy, Fuehrer said NPPD is getting ready to make the most of it.

“We’re scrambling as quickly as we can, kind of drinking from the firehose,” he said. “We want to do what we can to leverage those opportunities to the value of our customers.”

NPPD has already shifted staff toward sustainable energy and has developed programs for sustainable efficiency in recognition of the growing interest in green technology.

The agency also recently received a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help farmers and rural small businesses invest in renewable energy or efficiency.

Micaela Preskill, a Midwest representative with E2 (Environmental Entrepreneurs), co-wrote the report and said the gains in 2022 are like the “calm before the storm” as far as anticipated job growth in the clean energy industry.

Her group has tracked more than $90 billion nationally in private clean energy investments following Congress’ Inflation Reduction and Infrastructure Acts.

“That doesn't even include small scale stuff where consumers are having much more access to invest in energy efficiency,” she said. “The impacts on the industry are going to be profound, and it's really just getting started.”

Nebraska may need to boost workforce training to keep pace with the funding – nearly 90 percent of the state’s clean energy employers reported at least some difficulty hiring workers.

Preskill said investments in clean energy could spill over to benefit other parts of Nebraska’s economy.

“Clean energy jobs cover such a wide swath, from manufacturing to construction to agriculture,” she said. “When clean energy jobs grow, it’s a great opportunity to see the rippling benefit for the economy as a whole.”