Published on nj.com on 11/15/2019
By Erin Cosgrove, Director of Regulatory Affairs for EEA-NJ
New Jersey’s Energy Master Plan, currently in progress, will set the state’s energy priorities for the next decade and beyond. If implemented correctly, it has the unique potential to not only change the energy landscape in New Jersey, but the economy as well.
In the simplest terms, energy efficiency measures can range from changing out a lightbulb to retrofitting a whole home or business with energy-saving technologies; or designing buildings and appliances to be state-of-the-art efficient right from the start.
Energy efficiency is already creating opportunities for millions of Americans. Data shows that energy efficiency sector employs twice as many workers as the fossil fuel industry. The latest U.S. Energy and Employment Report found a total of 2,324,865 Americans were employed in energy efficiency in 2018, putting it among the largest employers across all energy sectors. And there is no end in sight.
In 2018, energy efficiency added 76,000 new jobs, making it the fastest growing job category in the energy sector for the second year in a row. In the coming years, the energy efficiency sector overall is projected to grow by nearly 8%, with manufacturers of highly-efficient products are projecting a 10% job growth.The energy decisions we make today will determine whether we grow these jobs here in New Jersey. The energy efficiency economy is an innovative and growing workforce that helps businesses and residents save energy and save money, while creating jobs and helping the state meet its carbon goals. Transitioning to a more energy efficient economy will require a diverse and dedicated workforce. That will include workers who manufacture and install energy efficiency systems, controls, windows, and insulation in homes, as well as commercial and industrial buildings; design and construct high performance energy buildings; and upgrade and repair home appliances and heating and cooling technology.
In addition, to support these changes in energy infrastructure, customer service representatives are needed to engage and inform consumers, researchers and developers to stay up to date on new technology, and managers to oversee employees as the industry and businesses expand.
Energy efficiency does not just provide jobs but careers. Unlike the boom and bust of other energy industries, careers in energy efficiency are projected to continue strong growth as innovation continues in technology and application. Additionally, energy efficiency jobs tend to be local, with companies looking to grow and invest in their workers. Finally, a growing energy efficiency economy does not only aid its workers, but the whole state. Investment in energy efficiency stimulates the state economy through putting more money in consumer’s pockets via lower energy costs. New Jersey is prepared and able to capitalize on this phenomenon. On the state level, data shows that strong energy efficiency policy leads to enormous growth in the energy efficiency job sector. In New York, the state’s policies have created 100,000 jobs directly as a result of smart and ambitious policy goals.In Pennsylvania, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), determined that if the state expands its energy savings programs from 0.8 to 1.2% a year, it would create an additional 30,000 jobs. In New Jersey, policy makers have set energy efficiency savings targets to a minimum of 2%.Writing an Energy Master Plan that meets – and ideally surpasses – those targets will put New Jersey on track to be a leader in clean energy jobs, while helping customers save money and meeting ambitious carbon goals in the swiftest, cheapest way possible. A win-win-win for all. Our industry stands ready to meet this challenge and deliver these benefits to New Jersey.