Craig Tarr, P.E., president of Energy Concepts, spoke of solar energy’s potential to policymakers and business owners this summer at Minnesota’s first-ever Clean Energy Economy Summit initiated by Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton.
As the local renewable energy expert, Craig stood alongside other industry leaders and representatives of the clean energy sector as they identified the challenges and opportunities for Minnesota to grow its burgeoning clean energy economy. Governor Dayton opened the summit with a call for Minnesota to eliminate coal from its energy production. A hefty request as 46% of Minnesota’s electricity came from coal in 2013, and in Wisconsin, 62%. As the voice of the solar industry in Minnesota, with over 25 years of experience behind him, Craig touched the crowd of over 400 with his personal anecdotes and passionate zeal for solar.
The summit’s purpose was to bring together collaborative clean technology industries, energy efficiency, wind, solar, bioenergy, and smart grid technologies, to share concerns and generate solutions. The rest of summit included presentations by other nationally known experts and the heads of many well-known Minnesotan companies including 3M, Ecolab, and Honeywell. “The political climate in Minnesota is being proactive in driving business while simultaneously encouraging environmental stewardship by creating opportunities for solar and other clean technology. It just goes to show that environmental responsibility can go hand in hand with job force development and business opportunity,” Craig said.
Minnesota’s clean energy sector has over 14,000 people working in over 1000 different companies, and the summit’s speakers hope to see those numbers grow. Wisconsin, too, has much room to expand its clean energy workforce. Wisconsin could gain 28 thousand more jobs if comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation were adopted.