Black Workers Are Being Left Out of the Clean Energy Boom


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By Renata Sago, Word in Black

$464 billion has flowed into the industry since 2022, but at only 8% of workers, Black folks aren’t getting a piece of the pie.

A Black woman environmental worker poses in front of wind turbines (Credit: Getty/Andriy Onufriyenko)

The Environmental Protection Agency recently announced $7 billion in grants for solar energy programs in residential communities. It is the latest round of public funding for the clean energy sector, which has seen $464 billion in investments since 2022. The money is intended to help local governments and non-profit organizations develop initiatives that lower energy costs in low-income and historically disadvantaged areas across the country. But questions linger about how well the industry reflects the nation’s diversity.

Several advocacy groups — E2, Alliance to Save Energy, American Association of Blacks in Energy, Energy Efficiency for All, and Black Owners of Solar Services — released a report in 2021 noting disparities within the presence of Black workers in the clean energy market. Black workers represented “about 8% of the clean energy labor force,” it found. Compared to white, Hispanic, and Asian Americans, Black workers were underrepresented across several sectors, including fossil fuels and clean vehicles. 

The top states for Black or African American clean energy workers were South Carolina, Maryland, and New York. For women workers, South Dakota, Nevada, and North Carolina had the most opportunities in clean energy.  

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