Currently, Minneapolis exports the vast majority of the $450 million we pay annually for energy, with a significant portion of that leaving the state. Dirty energy creates fewer jobs than clean energy resources (5 jobs per million dollars invested for natural gas and 7 for coal versus 13 jobs per million for wind, 14 per million for solar, and 17 per million for energy efficiency). Additionally, research by the Institute for Local Self Reliance, a coalition partner, shows that local ownership and control of clean energy generation produces up to 3.4 times as much local economic benefit as absentee ownership, keeping our energy dollars in the local economy.
We support an energy future in which the generation and management of our energy usage is as localized and distributed as possible. By ramping up energy efficiency and locally owned clean energy, we can build local wealth in a clean energy economy. In doing so, we can create thousands of jobs installing clean energy and energy efficiency systems, along with a range of associated jobs in community engagement, financing, and administration that accompany it. By taking better care of the grid and investing in smart grid infrastructure, we will create more jobs maintaining our distribution systems as well.
We envision a future where a significant portion of Minneapolis residents and businesses own a portion of their own energy generation, whether on their own building or in community systems that make clean energy systems accessible to renters and those without good sites. We’ll be investing in efficiency first to reduce the outflow of energy dollars, and will be employing people from our local communities to do so.
As we create local jobs in clean energy and energy efficiency, we must ensure adequate access to job training and set clear hiring goals to ensure that those who have the least opportunity in our current economy have access to these local economic opportunities. Minnesota has the worst racial disparity in employment in the nation, and city leadership around a just approach to the growth of clean energy jobs can help address that problem. By working with workforce training centers and community organizations, Minneapolis can drive job creation in clean energy and energy efficiency that is accessible to everyone.
Shifting to a local energy future won’t be immediate, and even in the long term it’s likely that we will need some part of our energy generation to come from outside Minneapolis because we are so densely populated. Working with other community-based clean energy projects across the state can support and supplement the energy we generate and conserve ourselves.