Solar Job Growth Expected to Continue in States that Support the Industry
Given the uncertainty at the federal level, various states are taking steps to promote (or discourage) renewable energy. Massachusetts and other states promoting renewable energy already are, or are looking to, increase renewable energy source requirements, cap or tax carbon emissions, or provide incentives to solar users. States discouraging it may look to impose fines on solar users or utility companies (for electricity generated using solar), or phase out net metering.
Massachusetts is not a state known for its year-round long sunny days, but it ranked 6th out of the 50 states for the cumulative solar capacity installed as of September 2016, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). Sunny California, Arizona and Nevada are naturally higher ranked than Massachusetts, but also near the top are North Carolina (2nd) and New Jersey (4th).
What Massachusetts, New Jersey and North Carolina have in common is that they were among those earliest and most supportive of the solar industry, be it with North Carolina’s state level Investment Tax Credit (ITC) or the Solar Renewable Energy Credit (SREC) programs in Massachusetts and New Jersey. As a result these states have created a large number of good, sustainable jobs in solar.
According to The Solar Foundation's National Solar Job Census of 2016, "One out of every 50 new jobs added in the United States in 2016 was created by the solar industry, representing 2 percent of all new jobs." And, according to the SEIA, "Across America, the number of solar jobs have nearly tripled since 2010."
Massachusetts, for example, had over 15,000 solar industry jobs at the end of 2015. Through our business clients, we have seen a wide range of solar energy jobs, from installers and electricians to drivers, managers and salespeople.
Is working in solar energy better than say, working in a coal mine? Many would think so. There's no disputing that coal mining is one of the most hazardous occupations and causes serious health issues. And let's not forget the overall impact of coal related pollution and carbon emissions. But generation after generation has worked in coal mining so understandably, change does not come easy. Perhaps a solution for struggling "coal states" isn't to pull back from renewable energy but to invest in it, which would give current and future generations greater options through retraining and new job opportunities in solar and other renewable energy industries.
We're seeing solar production costs declining, which should further increase the use of and reliance on solar energy. For the Bay State and other solar supportive states, the future looks bright with the promise of even more solar industry jobs.
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