State May Have Missed Out on Solar Jobs

20150521lfSolar02-1 Workers for Energy Independent Solutions install solar panels on ground mounts for a home in Moon in 2015. A new study showed jobs in the solar industry have grown by 23 percent in Pennsylvania

The Solar Foundation, a Washington, D.C. -based nonprofit organization, released a report earlier this week that showed substantial gains nationwide in the solar energy industry.

The White House website may not even mention it as part of Trump's "America First Energy Plan" - but the USA solar industry continues to post dramatic job growth numbers. This year Holyoke Gas & Electric's solar will more than double with four projects totaling 8.3 megawatts, the newsletter said. "Only oil/petroleum has more employment (by 38%) than solar".

The DOE also points out that the solar industry is interesting because despite all that employment in distributed solar (that is, non-utility solar), utilities still have a lot more solar energy capacity than homes and businesses-roughly 28,081,000 MWh compared to distributed solar's 16,974,000 MWh in 2016.

As The Denver Post reports, Colorado's solar companies added more than 1,000 workers previous year, according to the National Solar Jobs Census, allowing the state to maintain its top-10 ranking as a hub of solar energy employment.

The industry's growth is not expected to be as fast in 2017, however - more like 10 percent.

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"Solar is an important part of our ever expanding clean energy economy in Massachusetts, supporting thousands of high-skilled careers across the Commonwealth", Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker said.

"In 2016, we saw a dramatic increase in the solar workforce across the nation, thanks to a rapid decrease in the cost of solar panels and unprecedented consumer demand for solar installations", Luecke added.

In all, the Solar Foundation noted that 80 percent of the 51,000 solar-industry jobs added in 2016 were newly-created positions, and 20 percent were existing jobs that added a solar aspect to their responsibilities.

As of November 2016, 260,077 solar workers were employed by the industry, "representing a growth rate of 24.5 percent since November 2015".