Advanced energy can grow Colorado’s economy and create good jobs

New report shows Colorado’s solar & wind industries could support 13,000 jobs annually
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Date Published: April 11, 2016

FORT COLLINS, Colo. — Building on Colorado’s strengths in solar and wind power can maximize job growth and give the state a competitive economic edge. That’s according to the Colorado Jobs Project, a new report created in partnership with Colorado State University’s Center for the New Energy Economy and led by the American Jobs Project. The report is funded by The JPB Foundation, the Berkeley Energy and Climate Institute, and the Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society.

“Our research shows that smart policies and a focus on industrial clusters can allow states to become hubs of innovation and job creation in advanced energy industries that dovetail with a state’s own strengths,” said Mary Collins, program manager for the American Jobs Project.

“For Colorado, this approach could employ an average of almost 13,000 people annually in the solar and wind energy industries over the next 15 years,” Collins said.

Millions of Americans lost good-paying jobs during the recession, and unfortunately, many of the jobs created during the recovery have been in relatively low-skill, low-income occupations. In contrast, the Colorado Jobs Project proposes innovative strategies and policies designed to create thousands of skilled jobs that pay well for Coloradans today and into the future and informed by principles of competition, local control, and less red tape.

The report recommends innovative strategies to support job creation by capitalizing on growing market opportunities and aligning manufacturing with critical economic system components, including access to capital, innovation ecosystems, and workforce development.

The Colorado Jobs Project finds that:

  • Colorado currently relies on coal and natural gas for over 80 percent of its electricity production. Colorado can diversify its energy supply and grow the economy by developing advanced energy industries.
  • Colorado’s solar industry is an ideal mechanism for job growth due to its strong foundation of original equipment manufacturers, high-tech workforce, and large solar energy potential.
  • Colorado’s solar industry has the opportunity to employ an average of more than 7,700 Coloradans annually over the next 15 years.
  • Colorado is a regional leader in wind-generated power and wind turbine manufacturing and the industry is ripe for further growth with untapped wind resources and supportive policies.
  • Colorado’s wind industry has the opportunity to employ an average of over 5,300 Coloradans over the next 15 years.

“The American Jobs Project has presented critical information identifying the tremendous value of the new energy economy,” said Tom Plant, a Senior Policy Advisor at Colorado State University’s Center for the New Energy Economy. “It’s not simply one industry, but a cluster of industries, supply chains, research, and development that will drive our energy innovation to the next level.”

The American Jobs Project website, which launched this month, features reports on Colorado and nine other states, as well as a Policy Bank detailing best practices and innovative ideas for advanced energy job growth. To learn more, or to download a copy of the Colorado report, visit