The solar-and-wind power industries are generating jobs in Minnesota and nationally.

Minnesota in 2016 ranked sixth among states for wind energy production, behind No. 1 Texas, generating nearly 18 percent of the state’s electricity and employing about 4,000 people, according to the American Wind Energy Association.

Meanwhile, the AWEA and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)  say wind power added about 15,000 U.S. jobs last year, to 102,000 direct employees. The solar industry employs 373,000 Americans who work at least part-time on solar projects. Wind is growing fastest in the middle of America.

Oil (with 515,518 employees) and natural gas (398,235) are still the big dogs, according to a New York Times examination of DOE data. The coal industry has slid to 160,119 jobs.

Minnesota, which lacks oil or coal reserves, is producing cleaner, less-expensive electricity with a growing mix of natural gas, wind and solar, according to utilities and Fresh Energy, the clean-energy group. It's hosting a May 10 breakfast program at the Town and Country Club in St. Paul to consider clean-electricity expansion.

It will feature Joseph Stagner, executive director of energy management at Stanford University, a pioneer in alternatives and conservation; and Will Kaul, vice president and chief transmission officer at Great River Energy, Minnesota’s third-largest power producer and which generates about 25 percent of its power from renewable resources.

More information and registration at www.fresh-energy.org.

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