By David Pendered
Georgia has climbed to 16th place in the nation in 2013 for the number of workers in the solar industry, according to a new report by The Solar Foundation.
Georgia has added some 1,800 solar jobs since 2012, bringing the total number of jobs in Georgia’s solar industry to about 2,600, the report found.
“This report shows that the solar industry is putting people to work to meet a growing percentage of our energy needs with a pollution-free energy source that has no fuel costs,” Jennette Gayer, with Environment Georgia, said in a statement announcing the report.
A “by the numbers” snapshot of Georgia’s solar jobs shows the following:
- Top three job categories: Manufacturing, Installation, Other;
- Change in ranking since 2012: Up to 16th from 23rd;
- Solar jobs per capita ranking: Up to 32nd from 42nd;
- Number of homes powered by solar power ranking: 21st, with about 3,255 homes;
- Total solar companies: 146;
- Maximum solar resource ranking: 18.
California is ranked No. 1 for the number of solar jobs, with 47,233 jobs related to the solar industry, the report found. The major job categories are installation, manufacturing, and sales/distribution.
The report comes as the Georgia continues to grapple with the issue of solar energy.
In less than a year, Georgia’s Public Service Commission has approved 735 megawatts through solar power arrays. Now the question is how that power will be generated and governed. Rooftop solar panels on homes is part of the picture.
Enter House Bill 874. Its advocates, including Environment Georgia, say it would help homeowners finance the installation of solar panels by contracting directly with solar financing companies. The procedure would provide additional methods for homeowners to pay for the installation of solar panels on their homes. The bill was filed Jan. 28 has not moved out of the House Energy, Utilities, and Telecommunications Committee.
The bill has bipartisan support and is co-sponsored by an alliance that includes Rep. Mike Jacobs (R-Brookhaven) and Rep. Karla Drenner (D-Avondale Estates).
The growth in Georgia’s solar jobs is similar to the gains at the national level, according to another report the foundation released.
At the national level, the solar industry added 23,682 jobs in 2013 to raise the total number of jobs in the industry to 142,698, the foundation reported. The growth rate of 19.9 percent is 10 times the national average employment rate, which the foundation reported as 1.9 percent.
The foundation included supportive comments from Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz when it announced the national report card:
- “This is an exciting time for the solar industry in the United States, made even more clear by the latest industry jobs figures. According to the Solar Foundation, today there are more than 140,000 Americans employed up and down the U.S. solar supply chain and across every state. Since 2010, the solar industry has created nearly 50,000 new American jobs and employment has grown nearly 20 percent in the last year alone.
- “President Obama has set an ambitious goal to double electricity generation from renewable resources once again by 2020, and a vibrant U.S. workforce is achieving this.”
The Solar Foundation stated that the report is based on “wholly original figures” published by the foundation.
The information on each state is based on the foundation’s National Solar Jobs Census 2013, the Solar Energy Industries Association’s National Solar database and other sources: “These numbers are believed to be the most credible and up-to-date state-level jobs numbers in existence for each of the 50 states.”