National Solar Jobs Census Shows Rapid Solar Growth in Conservative States
The Solar Foundation (TSF) introduced its latest round of reports including a state-by-state breakdown of the National Solar Jobs Census 2013, showing how states’ solar energy employment is going up or down. It also released detailed reports on each of the states of California, Arizona. But perhaps one of the key takeaways is that there’s been a lot of growth in some of the more conservative states in nation, like Texas, Georgia, Louisiana and North Carolina.
“Nearly 90 percent of the states grew,” said Andrea Luecke, executive director and president of TSF said during a briefing on Capitol Hill. The market contracted in just five states and remained the same in just two states.
Luecke said that in conducting the census TSF and partner BW Research Partnership made 74,000 phone calls and sent about 11,000 emails to people in the solar industry. In all, they found that the solar industry in the U.S. now employs roughly 142,000 people—up from 93,000 in 2010. “The solar industry is a strong and quickly growing employer of American workers,” she said.
“By any measurement, these state-by-state jobs numbers represent a huge return on America’s investment in solar energy,” said Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) Executive Director Rhone Resch after reviewing the report. He added that public policies including the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) and net-metering are helping to drive solar across the U.S. “SEIA applauds the hard work of The Solar Foundation in compiling its annual jobs report, and we look forward to working with governors, legislators and regulators nationwide on a wide range of public policies designed to create new jobs and protect our environment.”
Luecke also cited the steep reduction in the cost of PV. “Over the last couple of years we’ve seen huge drops. It’s gone from $6 a watt to $3 a watt,” she said.
California, the nation’s most populous state, continued to lead the way with 47,223 jobs—more than a third of all the solar jobs in the country. “We’re very pleased that California is, once again, the leader in solar job creation. Owing to the positive policy environment in California, our state has a flourishing solar market with great job growth,” said Nancy Skinner, California State Assemblymember. “Strong ongoing support by California legislators and regulators will enable the solar industry to continue to be an economic powerhouse.”
However, the report also noted that New England has more than 25,000 solar jobs while southern states employ another 22,000 people in the solar sector. North Carolina on recent utility installations became the third largest state for installations in 2013, with both it and neighbor Georgia doubling the amount of solar jobs that had.