Supply Chain

NEW REPORT: Minnesota Home to Well-Over 100 Wind, Solar Supply Chain Companies

February 2, 2017

Contact: David Jakubiak


Minnesota Renewable Energy Sector Holds 100+ Businesses
Renewable Energy Investments Bring Business Growth Throughout the State

ST. PAUL, MN – More than 100 Minnesota companies serve wind power and solar energy markets, providing jobs to people across the state who are manufacturing, financing, designing, engineering, installing and maintaining renewable energy projects here and across the region, a study released today by the Environmental Law & Policy Center (ELPC) found.

“When a new solar installation or wind farm is built in Minnesota, the economic impact of that project goes well beyond the community that will be delivered the construction jobs and new tax revenue from the project, there can be a web of economic activity that extends across the state,” said Howard Learner, Executive Director of the Environmental Law & Policy Center. “Wind power and solar energy development drives economic and job growth. Every renewable energy project requires engineering, financial, manufacturing and construction businesses and workers.”

The report identified 82 companies involved in the solar power supply chain and 49 companies involved in the wind energy supply chain. The report identified companies through an analysis of industry group lists that included confirmation of each company’s supply chain role.

Minnesota Minority Leader Rep. Melissa Hortman lauded the robust growth of the state’s renewable energy sector. “Across Minnesota, the benefits of building renewable energy projects are clear. Companies have brought job opportunities and made investments in local communities where they are constructing renewable energy projects,” said Rep. Hortman. “Minnesota’s economy has benefited because our state is the Midwest’s pre-eminent leader in renewable energy policy. We should not take steps that threaten to roll back our progress or reduce jobs and economic growth in our renewable energy sector.”

For businesses involved in the installation and construction of wind and solar projects, increased renewable energy development results in increased economic activity in the communities where they operate.

“When most people think about renewable energy jobs they only think about construction,” said John Brand, Chief Financial Officer with Juhl Energy, which is based in Chanhassen. “But when you are developing a large project, like our MidGrid Solar/Wind Hybrid Project in Red Lake Falls, it all starts with landowners, legal and engineering professionals, and local consultants. Then there are the local partners, in Red Lake Falls where we’re working with the local economic development office.”

Scott Strand, senior attorney with ELPC in Minnesota, noted that current efforts in the state legislature could create new hurdles for renewable energy development in the state. “As they consider moving forward with efforts to slow rural solar and prioritize a new fossil fuel plant, legislators should know those actions may impact businesses in their home districts.”

“Minnesota’s solar energy policy leadership is helping grow more supply chain businesses throughout the state,” added Learner.

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Midwest Energy News Cites ELPC Michigan Supply Chain Report to Show Clean Energy Driving Economic Development

Strong clean-energy policy not only has environmental benefits, but it can also provide a push for businesses and economic development.

That’s according to Amy Butler — the executive director of OU INC, a small-business incubator specializing in energy at Oakland University in Michigan — who sees it unfold everyday.

Butler, who spent two decades on the policy side working for the state of Michigan, has transitioned to the business side and sees how the two can interact with each other.

Encouraging the clean-energy sector through standards and incentives makes the case for businesses to come to Michigan, she says.

recent report by the Environmental Law and Policy Center counted more than 300 businesses operating with the wind and solar supply chain here. Multiple reports have shown clean-energy investments nearing $3 billion and employing thousands in Michigan.

“Strong energy policy will attract energy-solution companies to the state,” Butler said.

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Midwest Energy News: Michigan Clean-Energy Supply Chain Thriving but Threatened According to ELPC’s Report

In Michigan, more than 300 businesses are active in the clean-energy sector, creating a supply chain of manufacturing, financing, engineering, designing and installing wind, solar and advanced battery systems, according to a new report from the Chicago-based Environmental Law and Policy Center.

And much of that economic development can be attributed to the state’s 2008 renewable portfolio standard that mandated 10 percent of the state’s generation portfolio come from renewables by the end of this year. Utilities have easily hit the target.

“We found the economic impact of the industry in Michigan is significant,” said John Paul Jewell, ELPC research coordinator.

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Rep. Mike Quigley Cites ELPC Report in Push for Full Rail and Transit Funding

Re-posted from

Quigley Leads Call for Full Funding of Transit & Passenger Rail

Mar 23, 2015 Press Release
WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Representative Mike Quigley (IL-05), member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD), led a bipartisan letter to the THUD Subcommittee with 10 members of the Illinois House delegation urging full funding for mass transit and passenger rail in next year’s THUD budget.

In the letter to THUD Subcommittee Chairman Mario Diaz-Balart (FL-25) and Ranking Member David Price (NC-04), Rep. Quigley wrote: “Today in Chicago, transit and rail as a whole generate an estimated $12 billion in annual economic benefits and 120,000 jobs to the region.” He continued, “Without robust federal funding of transit and passenger rail, Illinois transportation systems will be subject to deteriorating roadbeds and equipment, bad on-time performance, increased traffic congestion, and loss of ridership and American jobs. I urge my colleagues on the THUD Subcommittee to fully fund the Amtrak and Intercity Rail Capital Assistance Programs in FY2016, improving access to public transit and passenger rail not only in Illinois but in communities throughout the nation.”

Rep. Quigley was joined by Reps. Bustos, Davis, Dold, Duckworth, Foster, Gutierrez, Kelly, Lipinski, Rush, and Schakowsky.

The Environmental Law and Policy Center and the Blue Green Alliance released a report earlier this year, Passenger Rail & Transit Rail Manufacturing in the U.S., outlining the economic benefits of increased investment in transit and passenger rail to Illinois, as well as the entire United States.

“Investing in modern passenger rail improves mobility, creates Midwest manufacturing jobs, reduces pollution and pulls together the regional economy,” said Howard Learner, Executive Director of the Environmental Law & Policy Center. “We commend this bipartisan group of Illinois legislators for their commitment in working to advance better passenger rail in the nation’s transportation crossroads. ELPC’s recent Passenger Rail & Transit Rail Manufacturing in the U.S. report shows the strong economic value for all.”

As Illinois’ only member on the House Appropriations Committee, Rep. Quigley has pushed for a long-term surface transportation bill and prioritized Chicago-area infrastructure investments as a member of the Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD). Most recently, Rep. Quigley lead the effort to reauthorize the Railroad Safety Technology Grants Program, which provides critical funding for train control technologies and other new rail safety items. He fought for increased funding for the TIGER grant program to benefit both highways and pedestrian projects. Rep. Quigley helped secure $35 million in Core Capacity grants to benefit CTA and set aside $60 million in the FY14 omnibus available for Metra to implement safety improvements.


Report: WI Renewable Energy Presents Economic Opportunity

MADISON, Wis. – Solar- and wind-energy companies account for a lot of jobs and economic activity in Wisconsin, according to a new report that says the state has huge growth potential in renewable energy. Renewables are a big part of the state’s economy, said Andy Olsen, senior policy adviser at the Environmental Law and Policy Center, which released the report.

“There’s over 6,800 jobs from wind and solar companies alone, in addition to other renewable technologies, and over 500 companies profiting from renewable-energy growth,” he said. “So, there’s great economic opportunity here, especially for a state like Wisconsin with a strong manufacturing base. And what our report showed is that a lot of small businesses have benefited from renewable-energy growth.”

He pointed to advantages such as the state’s top university system and research institutes that have helped to develop new technologies and find new ways for them to succeed in the marketplace. The report also cited Wisconsin’s central location in the United States as a benefit for the state’s renewable-energy companies. The report made the point that renewable energy is Wisconsin’s only domestic energy source; no others are produced in the Badger State.

Although the state has made major strides in renewable energy, it said Wisconsin recently has begun to fall behind in terms of wind and solar development. Matt Neumann, president of the Pewaukee-based solar energy firm SunVest Co., echoed that warning and said the state is at an important crossroads.

“The opportunity is being capitalized on by other states throughout the country, and we have to make a choice of whether or not we’re going to stick with a 20th-century energy portfolio or whether we’re going to move into the 21st century,” he said. “If we as a state are serious about job creation, we’d better get serious about supporting innovation and technology related to the energy sector.”

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Omaha Public Radio: Report Finds More than 4000 Iowa Employees Working in Energy Supply Chain

More than 100 companies from across the state of Iowa are working in the wind and solar energy supply chain.

That’s according to a report recently released by the Environmental Law and Policy Center.

Howard Learner, Executive Director, says Iowa is helping to power the world through renewable energy businesses that build wind machines and solar panel equipment.

Learner says what’s interesting is the number of businesses across Iowa that are involved in making the equipment, designing and doing the engineering work for wind farms, handling the legal work and making component parts.

“So it’s good for manufacturing jobs as well as being good for construction jobs at the wind farms. It’s good for economic development in both in rural areas where the wind farms go up and in the manufacturing hubs like Cedar Rapids or Newton where the blades and other equipment is being made.  And it’s good for the environment by leading to cleaner air and cleaner water for everybody.”

Learner says Iowa has been a leader in wind power for a long time.  He says wind supplies 27% of the electricity generation in Iowa.

AP: Environment, business groups tout renewable energy jobs

CHICAGO (AP) – A Chicago-based environmental group has released a report on the economic impact of renewable energy in Illinois.

Environmental Law & Policy Center officials said Monday that more than 400 Illinois companies are involved in the wind and solar energy markets, representing more than 20,000 jobs in everything from manufacturing to financing to engineering.

The study comes as legislators consider a bill that would require the state to buy more energy from renewable sources. The bill would also create new energy-efficiency standards for Illinois utilities to reduce electricity demand 20 percent by 2025. Proponents say that could help create thousands of new jobs every year.

Elise Houren is government relations manager at the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce. She says a robust renewable energy sector will help Chicago attract new companies.

Midwest Energy News: Wind and solar supply chains thrive in Midwest states

Wind and solar energy support about 30,000 jobs at about a thousand companies in Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa, according to a series of reports released by the Environmental Law & Policy Center over the past two weeks.

The reports show the jobs created not only by the manufacture of wind turbine components, the building of wind farms and the installation of solar panels, but also in related businesses from banking to making cables and glass.

“We continue to be impressed by the robustness and the diversity of these jobs,” said ELPC executive director Howard Learner. “It’s not a one-size-fits-all. There are headquarters and manufacturing and construction jobs, retrofitting jobs, legal and insurance jobs, design and engineering, it’s really a diverse mix of skills for all types of companies.”

The ELPC is a member of RE-AMP, which publishesMidwest Energy News.

The supply chains have remained robust even as wind and solar have faced policy uncertainty at the state and federal level.

The ELPC and other groups say the renewal of the federal Production Tax Credit is crucial to future wind development and its supply chain impacts. The Siemens wind turbine blade plant in Fort Madison, Iowa laid off more than 400 of its 660 employees in 2012 because of uncertainty over the PTC. Many of those workers were rehired when the PTC was extended, the ELPC report notes, but now the credit is again in limbo.

Meanwhile the federal Investment Tax Credit which supports solar installations is in effect through 2016, with proponents hoping for a renewal.

In all three states and across the Midwest, federal grants under the USDA Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) pay up to a quarter of the cost for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects at farms or small rural businesses. In 2014 Congress authorized continued funding of $250 million for five years.

The ELPC released its Iowa report on March 5, just before a major agricultural summit in Des Moines where Republican presidential hopefuls discussed their views.

Learner said renewable energy and the federal tax credits will likely be an issue in the presidential election, and the special role that Iowa plays is notable since public support for wind power in Iowa is strong.

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Report: Illinois Renewable Energy Sector Holds 400+ Businesses, 20,000+ Employees

CONTACT: David Jakubiak, ELPC, (312) 795-3713 or

Renewable Energy Investments Bring Business Growth

CHICAGO – More than 400 Illinois companies serve wind power and solar energy markets, providing more than 20,000 jobs to people across the state who are manufacturing, financing, designing, engineering, installing and maintaining renewable energy projects here and across the region, a study released today by the Environmental Law & Policy Center (ELPC) found. The Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce joined the report release, underscoring the importance of investments in renewable energy in driving business growth across metropolitan Chicago.

“When a wind turbine goes up in rural Illinois, it doesn’t sprout from the ground,” said Howard Learner, Executive Director of the Environmental Law & Policy Center. “Every piece of a turbine, from the wiring and blades to the footing and ball bearings, are manufactured by skilled laborers in places like Cicero and Rockford. Where the turbine is sited is determined by engineers and project managers in places like Springfield and Palatine. And how the project is financed involves investment professionals, many right here in Chicago.”

The report identified more than 230 companies involved in the solar power supply chain and 170 companies involved in the wind energy supply chain. The companies were identified through an analysis of data from several industry groups and then contacted individually to confirm their supply chain role.

For businesses involved in the installation and construction of wind and solar projects, increased renewable energy development results in new business and increased economic activity in the communities where they operate.

“When you look at this report, it’s clear that policies like the production tax credit for wind, the investment tax credit for solar, and our own renewable energy standards here in Illinois are pocketbook issues for the more than 20,000 Illinoisans whose work supports the wind and solar industries and the 400-plus companies deciding whether they are going to staff-up or slim down,” said Learner.

Elise Houren, Manager of Government Relations at the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, said having a robust renewable energy sector makes Chicago an attractive destination for sustainability-minded companies.

“Energy is an important part of the infrastructure that businesses look to when deciding where to open up shop,” Houren said. “We know many businesses have embraced sustainability and placed a priority on renewable energy. We have the companies and workforce to bring more solar powered businesses to the Chicagoland area and to develop more wind energy across the state using parts manufactured here in Chicagoland.”


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