State could gain jobs from 'green,' study says

  • Article by: NEAL ST. ANTHONY , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 26, 2007 - 8:52 PM

A report says meeting a proposed federal energy standard could create 18,000 manufacturing jobs in Minnesota.

The mayors of Minneapolis and St. Paul, flanked by an executive of one of America's largest construction companies, endorsed a study released Monday by the Sierra Club and the United Steelworkers that says the Twin Cities and Minnesota can add more than 18,000 well-paying manufacturing jobs in the wind, solar and other alternative-energy businesses over the next decade.

The report by the Washington-based Renewable Energy Policy Project is a state-by-state look at the impact on employment of generating 15 percent of America's electricity from alternative sources by 2020, a provision of an energy bill that awaits congressional action. The report was prepared for the Blue Green Alliance, a Minneapolis-based partnership of the United Steelworkers and the Sierra Club.

David Mortenson, senior vice president of M.A. Mortenson Co., Golden Valley, said the national construction firm already employs 200 Minnesotans through its energy division, which has built farms and other renewable-energy projects in 27 states. He added that Mortenson's clients increasingly demand energy-conserving buildings.

"We are an example of the green revolution," Mortenson said.

Under a new state law, a quarter of Minnesota's electricity must come from wind and other alternative sources by 2025, and the state also has taken steps to diversify its source of automotive fuels with ethanol and biodiesel initiatives.

St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman and Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak said plans are underway to expand and add companies in the conservation and alternative-energy industries.

"Why order wind turbines from Denmark or Spain to put up in Minnesota when we know that the Twin Cities has the workers and the factories to make them right here?" said Gerry Parzino of the Steelworkers union. "Gearboxes from Minneapolis and solar panels from St. Paul make sense for both the environment and Minnesota's economy."

Neal St. Anthony • 612-673-7144

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