Vermont’s clean and green reputation is alive and well. Yes, Vermont is the Green Mountain State, but it is also a leader in clean-energy initiatives that boosts the other “green” — our economy. The current statewide pledge of 90 percent renewable energy by 2050 is an important initiative to keep Vermont green and bring home the green to its economy.
According to the Energy Action Network’s new progress report, clean-energy jobs make up 6 percent of the jobs in Vermont, the highest share of any state. While the state has lost a bit of ground between 2017 and 2018, there is still a robust job market in renewable energy, energy efficiency and clean-transportation jobs, with even more room to grow.
At Vermont Technical College, we are fueling this sector with our graduates from a variety of programs and degrees.
Our renewable-energy bachelor’s degree is designed to prepare system designers, technicians, field operations technologists, energy project developers and so much more. Students in architectural engineering and architectural and building engineering learn about building energy assessments, along with EnergyStar, LEED and other energy certifications. Their degrees prepare them to be leaders in net-zero and energy-efficient building design and mechanical/electrical building system design and innovation. Our programs in electrical engineering and electromechanical engineering aim to give students the background they need to lead innovation in new energy-efficiency technologies in a variety of fields. Our Office of Continuing Education and Workforce Development regularly offers training in a variety of areas such as weatherization, Building Performance Institute professional certificates, biodiesel, hybrid and electric vehicles, solar photovoltaic and so much more.
As these students and graduates know, clean energy has environmental benefits, such as reducing our use of fossil fuels, increasing recycling, better water quality management and so much more. But it also has financial benefits. According to the Energy Action Network report, the median wage for clean-energy jobs in Vermont is more than $55,000. Jobs in electrical and related engineering technologies have a median pay in the $80,000-$90,000 range. Even better, these jobs can’t be outsourced.
Vermont Tech graduates 450-500 students every year. When we support the state’s vibrant, green industries, we support these graduates staying here, building their communities and supporting the growth of Vermont’s economy.
Further, clean energy keeps more of Vermonters’ hard-earned dollars here in the state. The Energy Action Network reports that, because 78 percent of Vermonters heat their homes with fossil fuels, $185 million dollars leaves the Vermont economy, instead of recirculating and growing our businesses. We spent even more on fossil fuels to drive our cars and operate our machinery, and 78 cents of each fossil fuel dollar leaves our economy. More efficient home heating and transportation keeps that money in the state supporting Vermont jobs and enterprises.
Clean, green jobs are great for Vermont’s economy and Vermont’s workforce as well. “It’s not easy being green” as Kermit the Frog said, but it is profitable.