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Study: Wisconsin adds clean energy jobs amid national drop

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin added nearly 1,800 new clean-energy jobs last year despite a slowing of growth in the industry nationwide, according to a new report.

The national advocacy groups Environmental Entrepreneurs and Clean Energy Trust have released a study that found that number of jobs in Wisconsin in the clean-energy industry increased by 2.4% from 2017 to 2018.

The energy-efficiency and renewable-energy sectors saw the most growth in the state in 2018, Wisconsin Public Radio reported.

The number of jobs in Wisconsin’s energy-efficiency sector, which includes manufacturing efficient lighting or heating systems, increased by 1.4 percent from 2017 to 2018.

The number of jobs in renewable-energy generation increased by 5.4 percent in that same period.

That happened even as the number of renewable-energy jobs throughout the country declined last year partly as a result of President Donald Trump’s tariffs on imported solar panels, according to the report.

The state’s solar industry isn’t as affected by the tariffs because it relies on small installations, in which panels are the least expensive option, said Tyler Huebner, executive director of the advocacy group RENEW Wisconsin.

“Nationally, where there’s other really large scale solar projects, where the cost of the panels is a larger percentage of the project, then that little bit of change in the tariff price can have an outsized effect,” Huebner said.

Huebner warned the tariffs could hurt the industry in coming years.

“We hope those tariffs kind of go away and work themselves out in the market so that our solar expansion isn’t affected by those kind of tariffs,” Huebner said.

The report also found that clean-energy companies, like many businesses, are contending with a worker shortage, which is limiting their ability to expand.

Nearly 88 percent of the surveyed companies reported trouble finding workers. But the state’s clean-energy companies still expect to add more than 6,000 jobs this year, according to the study.

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