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Report: MN Sees Decline in Solar Jobs

Minnesota gets about 25% of its electricity from renewable energy, such as solar power. (Adobe Stock)
Minnesota gets about 25% of its electricity from renewable energy, such as solar power. (Adobe Stock)
February 20, 2020

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Minnesota saw a dip last year in its number of solar industry jobs, according to a new report from a nonpartisan research group.

After seeing gains in 2017 and 2018, Minnesota experienced a nearly 6% decline in solar job growth last year. That finding was included in the annual "Solar Job Census" issued by The Solar Foundation.

The drop runs counter to growth at the national level, but Ed Gilliland, the foundation's senior director, says national numbers are recovering from solar tariffs issued by the Trump administration in 2018.

"There's now certainty in the market," he points out. "The global prices have actually continued to decline, and they've declined enough to offset those tariffs."

Gilliland says Minnesota's drop can be attributed to a slowdown in the state's community solar sector. Specifically, he says reimbursement rate declines were a factor.

The report says nationally, there was a gain of more than 5,600 solar jobs, while Minnesota lost 267 jobs.

Gilliland says there's still optimism surrounding Minnesota's solar output and its potential for more jobs. He says if the community sector decline levels off, there's no reason to think job growth will not rebound.

"The residential market is experiencing growth and the utility scale market, which is the larger projects, is also experiencing some growth," he explains.

Minnesota employs more than 4,300 people in the solar industry. Gilliland says average pay for solar technicians is around $18 an hour.

Mike Moen, Public News Service - MN