Advanced Energy Jobs Expected To Grow In Indiana

November 17th, 2016

By Nick Janzen | WBOI

Nearly 50,000 Hoosiers worked in advanced energy industries in 2015, according to a new report published by Advanced Energy Economy, a business association.

Advanced energy is a broad category that includes renewable energy, energy efficiency and power grid modernization. It’s a $200 billion industry nationwide.

Benjamin Stafford, an AEE state policy manager, says advanced energy jobs include engineering, computer scientists, data scientist, and construction workers.

“This touches a lot of areas,” says Stafford.

There are some challenges when it comes to filling energy jobs. Part of the problem is finding trained workers.

“That gap is not something we can’t address, it’s not something that the Hoosier state has had trouble addressing in the past,” says Stafford. “And another part of it, I think, is this concept of the brain drain.”

Brain drain is when skilled workers leave one state to go work in other states.

Former Fort Wayne mayor and Advanced Energy Economy CEO Graham Richard says while past energy sources, like coal, built a robust U.S. economy, renewables are becoming increasingly more affordable.

“When you combine wind and solar with batteries and storage, across the country we’re beginning to see astoundingly low costs for that,” says Richard.

The report expects an additional 900 advanced energy jobs to be added in 2016.

Former Indianapolis mayor Greg Ballard, who also works for AEE, says having more clean energy in the state will also help attract new business.

“For instance, Amazon is going to open 40 new centers here over the next few years,” Ballard says. “This is one of the things that they will be looking at — are they going to be able to provide us the kind of energy that we want?”