Group ranks Mo. in top 10 in clean energy industry

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INDEPENDENCE, Mo. -- An environmental group ranks Missouri as one of the top 10 states in the nation last year for creating jobs in the clean energy industry.

More Show-Me State businesses are taking advantage of energy from the sun to cut their utility costs.

The nonpartisan group, Environmental Entrepreneurs, says solar energy created the most jobs last year nationwide, including more than 115 new positions on the Missouri side of the metro area.

One of those firms, Free Energy, says it added four new employees in the last year, as the company sees increased demand for solar power at businesses and homes.

Company owner Josh Frankeberger says 2013 was the busiest he's ever been, providing solar energy at more than 30 locations around the metro area.

He credits state incentives, which cut costs in half, for helping fuel clean energy growth in the Show-Me State.

"The last two quarters we had about 18 of those 30 jobs go in," Frankeberger said. "Everyone was trying to meet the end of the year for tax credits, the federal 30 percent tax credit. they were trying to take advantage of a now expired $2 per watt rebate through the utility companies."

Frankeberger says Kansas is not ranked nearly as high for clean energy job growth because the Sunflower State does not offer the incentives Missouri had.

He claims many customers can make their investment in solar power pay for itself in six to seven years. Without incentives, you're looking at 15 years to recoup upfront costs.

The utility rebate for solar power in Missouri is no longer available, and solar advocates say that may hurt future job growth here.

Environmental Entrepreneurs says new clean energy jobs are actually down in 2013 compared to 2012 as incentives and favorable policies in the states are rolled back.

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