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With more than 20 million residents, Florida is the third most populous state in the country, and one of the fastest growing. It is also a major energy consumer, ranking second nationally in retail electricity sales. Because of the need for year-round air conditioning, it also has one of the highest rates of home electricity consumption in the United States. As the state grows and consumers continue to demand more energy choices, Florida is increasingly turning to advanced energy to meet its electricity needs - and reaping the economic benefits that come with it. We began to quantify these benefits last year with publication of Advanced Energy in Florida, a report that measured the size of the advanced energy industry in the Sunshine State in terms of dollars. The results were impressive: Florida is home to an industry that brought in $6.2 billion in revenue in 2014. Now, we know that advanced energy means jobs in the Sunshine State as well.
Thanks to newly available data, we can now quantify the number of advanced energy jobs in Florida for the first time. In Advanced Energy Jobs in Florida, we show that Florida’s advanced energy industry is a major statewide employer. At 140,000 workers, advanced energy in Florida supports nearly twice as many jobs as agriculture, more than real estate, and equal to schools, colleges, and training institutions. Advanced energy jobs are growing, too. Employers expect to add over 5,000 jobs by the end of the year, a growth rate of 4%.
These jobs figures come from the national Energy Employment Index, produced by BW Research Partnership, a major labor market research firm. The Index is based on a detailed survey of more than 20,000 businesses nationwide conducted between September and November of 2015. The Index is the basis for the Department of Energy’s first annual U.S. Energy and Employment Report, which was published in March. For AEE Institute, BW Research Partnership was able to draw on the Index, which covers employment in the entire energy industry, to quantify the jobs directly associated with advanced energy in the state of Florida.
For the purposes of this report, AEE Institute broke the industry into five segments: Energy Efficiency, Advanced Transportation, Advanced Fuels, Advanced Electricity Generation, and Advanced Grid. Advanced energy workers were defined as full- or part-time, permanent employees who support the advanced energy portion of the business where they work.
In terms of size, by far the largest segment in Florida is Energy Efficiency, which employs over three-quarters of Florida’s advanced energy workforce, more than 106,000 people. Workers in this segment help consumers meet their needs using less energy by, for example, designing more efficient buildings, upgrading air conditioning units, or installing better insulation in people’s homes.
With over 23,000 workers, Advanced Electricity Generation is the second biggest segment in Florida. Over half of these workers - more than 10,000 - are in the solar industry. (Note: The Solar Foundation also utilizes the BW Index for its employment data, but for its purposes counts as solar workers only those who spend more than half their time on solar, coming up with 6,500 solar jobs nationally.)
Florida’s solar industry has recently been pushed to the fore as voters consider a ballot initiative that would support expanded growth in solar energy. On August 30, voters will be asked to approve constitutional Amendment #4 on the statewide primary ballot, which, if passed, would extend a property tax exemption for renewable energy devices, including solar, on commercial and residential properties. This proposed amendment was approved by the Florida legislature with the leadership of state Sen. Jeff Brandes and Reps. Ray Rodrigues and Lori Berman and the support of AEE. Endorsed by Florida Realtors® and Florida Retail Federation and supported by the state’s major electric utilities, the measure now must be ratified by a statewide vote.
Employment in other advanced energy segments is smaller but expected to grow as the state continues to deploy advanced energy technologies. Advanced Transportation workers in Florida number nearly 8,000. Jobs in this segment range from R&D to manufacturing to wholesale trade in fuel cell, natural gas, hybrid, and electric vehicles. Advanced Fuels employ over 1,500 workers, mainly in corn ethanol, and Advanced Grid employs just under 1,000 workers in smart grid, energy storage, and electric vehicle charging infrastructure.
An advanced energy economy is what AEE is working toward in Florida. That’s not just dollars and cents; it’s people, too – people at work, as well as people who, as customers, enjoy the comfort, convenience, and control of advanced energy at home and in the office. These numbers, which show advanced energy to be a major source of employment and job growth, help to fill out the picture of the advanced energy economy that is here now and expected to grow in the future.
The full scope of advanced energy employment in Florida is available by clicking below: