Recommended Article: Solar Industry Grows 13.2 Percent, Adds Jobs

The Solar Industry Continues to Grow, Adding over 13,000 New American Jobs, Most via Small Businesses

While the solar industry has had its share of problems in the last year, overall the industry grew 13.2 percent and added many jobs to the US Economy mostly through small American businesses. The average rate of job US job growth was 2.3 percent during the same time period.

It also useful to remember that it’s most companies with problems were large ones that made serious strategical errors and other unwise financial decisions.

The breakdown in new jobs is pretty evenly split across “Red” and “Blue” states, although many states in the US heartland are the ones offering the most Green Energy incentive programs right now.

Bottom Line: DESPITE the huge missteps of some big players, the solar industry grew between 13.2 percent September 2011 and September 2012, adding over 13,000 new jobs to the US economy. This is the number of “New Jobs” after the losses incurred by the large companies that ran into trouble.

Despite changes made to the US Trade Agreement Act in early 2012, China still dumped tons of inferior solar panels into the United States, many of which were sold and installed not by small businesses, but by large “home improvement” companies.

It’s also important to note that a US House of Representatives vote on legislation to protect US jobs and the US dollar from regarding undervaluation of Chinese and Vietnamese currency was proposed by the FTC and the Treasury and sat without action for months. After intense pressure from pro-US job groups, the legislation was voted into effect in March 2012.

Before we get to the article about 2011-2012 growth, it’s important to remember than some of President Bush’s renewable energy programs implemented under his 2008 “Stimulus Packge” are still available even though most were slashed 2011 and 2012 by the House of Representatives, there still are many renewable energy incentive programs available to residential, commercial, business and institutional entities.

If you are interested in saving money on your utility bills, being more energy-independent AND getting a tax break or other incentive by using solar, wind and other renewable energy products, there is a great site to see what incentives are available to you. The programs are listed online at DSIREUSA.org, the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency. Along with renewable energy, the database lists incentives from conservation and efficiency that are available in your area.

Back to the Article:

Salt Lake City, UT — News of job growth is always a good thing. But when that news just so happens to apply to a segment as beset with challenges as the solar industry, it crosses the line from good to great. Today, The Solar Foundation (TSF) announced encouraging statistics that show despite recent setbacks and reports of layoffs, the U.S. solar industry is expanding at a clip nearly six times that of the overall economy.

According to TSF’s National Solar Jobs Census 2012, the U.S. solar industry added 13,872 jobs between September 2011 and September 2012. Bringing the total of employed solar industry workers to 119,016, this leap represents a 13.2 growth in employment. In comparison, the overall economy poked along at a sluggish 2.3 percent during the same time period, according to information obtained from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In a press release issued by TSF, Executive Director Andrea Luecke said, “The solar industry has grown at significantly higher rates than most other industries in the past several years, making it one of the foremost creators of new jobs in the United States. These new solar industry jobs are sustainable, cannot be outsourced and play a critical role in our country’s economic recovery.”

Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Washington, D.C. based non-profit Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), said, “The solar energy industry is creating jobs in America when we need them most. The rapid growth of jobs in the solar industry clearly demonstrates that smart policies, including the federal investment tax credit, are putting Americans back to work.”

Information gathered from the voluntary online census, which queried more than 1,000 solar companies, also provided illuminating information as to the principal driving factors behind the industry’s surge in growth. The biggest percentage of participants, almost one third, cited falling prices for solar components as a primary driver of growth. Others pointed to federal tax incentives and state legislation allowing third-party system ownership, as well as the enacting of Renewable Portfolio Standards to foster the increased production of solar energy.

“This is what happens when government provides a stable policy environment,” Resch added. “The private industry does what it does best – creates new jobs for Americans.”

Monique Hanis, spokesperson for SEIA, said continued growth of the U.S. solar industry will hinge greatly upon the protection and expansion of successful state and federal policies, in addition to continued financing for solar projects and operations.

Public perception about the state of the solar industry is another factor critical to that growth, and has recently come under scrutiny due to recent reports of layoffs — but as Hanis points out, the solar companies most impacted by layoffs have been in the manufacturing sector, which accounts for a small percentage of all solar jobs. According to TSF’s 2011 solar census, that percentage was less than 14 percent.

“This is similar to other industries that have evolved over time,” said Hanis. “We’ve seen this in the automotive industry, in the IT computer industry, and in telecommunications. It’s a natural progression as an industry matures. You’re going to see consolidations in some sectors.”

Presently, the total installed solar capacity in the U.S. adds up to 5.7 gigawatts (5,700 megawatts). By the end of 2012, it is expected that another 3.2 gigawatts will be added, nearly doubling last year’s growth. Estimates indicate that 2013 will see the addition of another 3.9 gigawatts of solar capacity in the U.S.

Conducted by TSF and BW Research with assistance from Cornell University, the figures gathered by the National Solar Jobs Census 2012 included a wide range of jobs within the solar industry, for a total of 31 different occupations including manufacturing, sales, installation, and software development. The full report is scheduled to be released on November 14.

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