Report: Solar Job Growth Blazing Hot, But Slowing Some In PA
Monday, March 2, 2015
HARRISBURG, Pa. - Job growth in the solar industry is blazing nationally, although cooling a bit in Pennsylvania. An annual census by The Solar Foundation found the number of jobs in the industry up by nearly a quarter over the year before and up nearly 90 percent since 2010.
Andrea Luecke, president and executive director of The Solar Foundation, says most of these jobs pay well. She says much of the new work is sales and installation. As solar power becomes more competitive, more people want it installed.
"It's been phenomenal," says Luecke. "Homeowners, commercial owners, even utilities and as we have more solar installed on rooftops, on land, in parking lots, on top of landfills, we need people to do those installations."
After being one of the fastest growing solar states for several years, Pennsylvania has slowed a bit. But Luecke says the state still ranks in the top 15. According to the census there are nearly a 175,000 people employed in the industry nation wide.
According to The Solar Foundation, Pennsylvania changed the way it calculates the value of solar credits. Luecke says this means people are getting somewhat less in state and federal incentives. She says this has slowed what had been one of the fastest growing solar markets in the country.
"But there's a lot of activity in Pennsylvania nonetheless," says Luecke. "There's 461 companies and the state has a relatively high percentage of other jobs, likely in research and or professional services."
One key factor driving the white-hot national job growth is a steep drop in the cost of solar cells. Luecke says this means solar generated electricity is becoming increasingly competitive.
"What you're currently paying for conventional fossil fuels is about what you'll pay for solar in many states," she says.
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