Minnesotans support clean energy projects that put local residents to work

The clean energy industry provides some of the best, and worst, examples of how major construction projects can either help or abandon local workers. Construction of utility-scale wind and solar projects is dominated by a handful of large national contractors that employ a traveling workforce. Some contractors participate in labor agreements that commit them to hiring local workers, and these contractors have created hundreds of job opportunities for Minnesotans. Other national contractors feel no such obligation to employ locals, and they put few, if any, locals to work when they are hired to build wind or solar installations.

A 2018 report by the North Star Policy Institute, "
Catching the Wind: The impact of local vs. non-local hiring practices on construction of Minnesota wind farms," found that such differences in the use of local and non-local construction workers can translate into significant differences in local economic impact. The analysis found that local construction workers are expected to contribute three or four times more to local economic activity than non-local workers, and on a typical 150- or 200-megawatt wind project, the difference between largely local and non-local construction hiring can add up to millions of dollars gained or lost for local economies.

A new report, "Catching the Wind 2.0: An Update on Changing Employment Practices in Minnesota's Wind Energy Industry," takes a look back at the progress we have made over the last year and suggests additional steps we need to take to protect local workers and Minnesota communities. The report details positive developments over the last year including the implementation of new workforce reporting standards by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission and efforts by some developers to hire more local workers. 

You can learn more about the benefits of local hiring and the high cost of clean energy construction outsourcing by visiting the North Star Policy Institute website