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January 25, 2022

Report: CT’s clean energy industry lost around 6% of jobs in 2020

solar clean energy blumenthal Photo | HBJ File A technician from Norwich-based Lantern Energy working on a solar array.

Connecticut’s clean energy sector shed 5.9% of its jobs in pandemic-marred 2020, a significant but smaller setback than was seen in most other states and the U.S. on average.

According to a new report from Energize CT, just over 2,600 workers in the industry lost their positions that year, dropping total sector employment to around 41,500 people. The downswing, which was at its most severe during the COVID-19 lockdowns of March and April, effectively wiped out nearly four years of employment growth in clean energy, setting Connecticut back to 2016 levels before a modest recovery from June to December.

The number of full-time-equivalent clean energy workers fell by just over 3,200, or 10.3%, Energize CT found; solar (down 6.8%), clean energy construction (-6.4%) and energy efficiency (-6.7%) were among the hardest-hit subsectors.

The fall-off was most evident in Hartford County, where employment shrank from 14,029 workers to 13,321, followed by slightly smaller losses in Fairfield and New Haven counties.

State officials were quick to point out, however, that Connecticut held onto more of its clean energy workforce than many nearby states, including Massachusetts (-11.2%) and Rhode Island (-15.5%), and the U.S. as a whole (-9.1%).

Perhaps as a result, the clean energy sector resisted headwinds to post a higher gross regional product in 2020 ($6.63 billion) than in 2019 ($6.51 billion).

In a statement, Gov. Ned Lamont attributed the softened blow to close collaboration among state economic and energy agencies and the private sector, which resulted in the rollout of increased incentives, stepped up health and safety training and assistance in accessing state and federal aid and resources.

“The pandemic required the energy efficiency industry to reimagine how to conduct business safely in Connecticut,” Lamont said. “I am proud of the quick and meaningful actions taken by DEEP, DECD, the Connecticut Green Bank, the Energy Efficiency Board, our clean energy contractors and our utility program administrators, in close collaboration, placing Connecticut at the top of the pack regionally and nationally in preserving our critical clean energy workforce.”

Despite the reversals of 2020, Energize CT reported that clean energy employers are optimistic about their prospects for the future. Clean energy employment is projected to have grown by about 8.2% in 2021, which would translate to about 3,400 new jobs, the study found.

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