Utah now ranks 14th nationally in solar industry jobs

Mike Blake  Reuters
Solar installers from Baker Electric place solar panels on the roof of a residential home in Scripps Ranch San Diego

The National Solar Jobs Census requires that workers are employed at least 50 percent of their time in the solar industry to be counted in the statistic.

Maryland had a total of 5,429 solar workers in 2016, according to the National Solar Jobs Census 2016, an annual report by the nonprofit organization The Solar Foundation.

In Texas, there are 9,396 solar jobs and more than 260,000 solar jobs in the nation. Employers polled in the census expect another 10 percent increase this year, for a total of 286,335 solar workers. The Foundation says it has consistently found approximately 90 percent of these workers spend all of their time on solar-related work.

Luecke said her group's data shows the median wage in the solar industry is $26 dollars an hour, compared to the median wage in the country of just $20 dollars per hour. "You either learn how to work with this new medium, solar energy, or you're going to face increasing conflicts".

"As our base grows, we'll be seeing slower growth", said Luecke, "which is not uncommon for a maturing industry".

In addition, Luecke said the state's efforts to change the way it regulates utilities to reflect the growth of solar energy and other alternative power sources has been encouraging for the solar industry, unlike some states, such as Nevada, that have sought to reduce subsidies for solar energy.

The census found that 9 percent of solar-industry workers nationwide are veterans, compared with 7 percent of the overall USA workforce.

The sectors experiencing the greatest growth past year were R&D and Finance (+55%), followed by Project Development (+53%), Sales and Distribution (+32%), Manufacturing (+26%) and Installation (+14%).

In an email, Hellerstein pointed to the recent lengthy legislative process to lift caps on net-metering, which allows solar power producers to sell energy at above market value, and a reduction in the value of net-metering credits, which was part of the law lifting the cap a year ago.

RENEW Wisconsin leads and accelerates the transformation to Wisconsin's renewable energy future through advocacy, education, and collaboration.

The solar industry now employs more than twice as many Americans as the nation's entire coal industry and just as many as the natural gas industry.

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