Washington’s Commitment to Clean Energy Moves State Toward 100% Carbon-Free Electricity
Washington, the Evergreen State, is living up to its motto, vowing to “Keep Washington green.” The state was among the first to commit to 100% carbon-free electricity by 2045 in May of 2019, joining California, Hawaii, New Mexico and Puerto Rico. This move ensures that the state’s utilities act in favor of the climate and their customers, instead of building out new fossil fuel infrastructure. Washington is already 75 percent free from fossil fuels, so the transition to a carbon-free future is expected to be a smooth one.
Clean Energy Jobs in Washington State
The clean energy industry jobs industry in Washington is now a larger employer than Amazon, reports the non-partisan group Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2). As of late 2018, nearly 83,000 state residents were employed in the clean energy industry – ranking it 13th in the nation.
Energy efficiency jobs accounted for more than 75 percent of the total clean energy jobs, followed by renewable energy at nearly 14 percent, and grid and energy storage jobs around 5 percent. Clean vehicles and other biofuels also had a small showing at 3 and 2 percent, respectively. Looking at the breakdown by value chain, Washington state employed the most construction workers in the clean energy field (64%) followed by professional services (12%). Manufacturing and trade jobs also hovered just below 7 percent.
Smart Policies that Facilitate Clean Energy Progress
Consumer and commercial demand to save money on energy has certainly played an important role in Washington’s clean energy economy. The state’s eco-friendly policies are also largely responsible for its thriving green energy landscape.
In 2006, Washington passed its renewable portfolio standard (RPS), called the Washington Energy Independence Act. Thirteen years later, this ballot initiative has proven to be a powerful job creator, while prompting an investment of more than $8 billion in solar, wind, hydro and energy efficiency businesses across the state.
Another driving force in Washington’s green energy movement are the recent updates to its energy efficiency programs. Back in 2005, the state created minimum efficiency standards for 11 products. In 2019, the Evergreen State adopted 16 new appliance and equipment standards, bringing the total covered products to 22. Washington has also enacted America’s first water heater standard, that, according to the ACEEE state database: “requires all new electric water heaters to have a standard communications port that will enable low-cost deployment of demand response communications equipment using an open-source protocol.”
These policies have certainly helped make Washington a green leader – but there is plenty of room for progress. Andy Wunder, E2 Western States advocate, is adamant about a carbon tax for the state of Washington. “Smart policies – including putting a price on carbon – can keep [clean energy] jobs growing and keep Washington at the forefront of the 21st-century economy,” Wunder said in a statement.
Where Are the Clean Energy Jobs?
If you want to work in clean energy in the state of Washington, where’s your best bet? Seattle – by far. The Seattle/Tacoma/Bellevue area is home to 45,820 clean energy jobs, 34,088 energy efficiency jobs and 6,840 renewable energy jobs. But if you live in a rural area of the state, your odds are still good. In fact, some 8,500+ rural residents now work in the clean energy field – which is more than every Washington metro area except for Seattle. Spokane is the next highest with over 6,300 clean energy workers, followed by the Portland/Vancouver/Beaverton metro area with about 5,300 employees.
It’s not just solar installers and Energy Star appliance manufacturers who work in the clean energy industry – it’s the accountants and legal counsel, electricians and researchers, marketing professionals and sales reps who make the industry tick. With all the essential jobs that make up the clean energy industry, there’s a job for every interest and experience level.
Ready for an exciting career in the clean energy industry? Consider an opportunity in the Pacific Northwest. Start by creating your free professional profile on Clean Energy Jobs List and see what opportunities await you in Washington State!