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Solar Jobs Census: Forecast Mostly Cloudy for North Dakota

PHOTO: The number of North Dakota jobs within the solar industry is growing, but the latest analysis shows they are still few and far between, with only about 300 solar workers total. Photo credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
PHOTO: The number of North Dakota jobs within the solar industry is growing, but the latest analysis shows they are still few and far between, with only about 300 solar workers total. Photo credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
February 24, 2015

BISMARCK, N.D. - North Dakota may be the nation's second-largest producer of oil, but when it comes to jobs from the sun, the state barely makes a blip on the radar.

Andrea Luecke, president and executive director of The Solar Foundation, says North Dakota ranks 47th in the U.S. in the number of solar power-related jobs. She notes "exact information" for the state can be difficult to gather.

"The little data we were able to pull out of North Dakota indicates modest job growth, on the order of a few dozen solar workers," she says. "It went from 230 solar workers to about 300."

According to Luecke, the solar industry now employs more than 173,000 workers nationwide, with growth of about 20 percent expected again this year.

A vast majority of solar jobs in the U.S. are in the installation, manufacturing and sales and distribution sectors. Luecke says that's also the case for North Dakota.

"Some of this work is in installation, but seems to be primarily from a few upstream manufacturers providing components for the larger solar industry," says Luecke.

The 2014 Solar Jobs Census also found there are now eight solar companies in North Dakota.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - ND