Texas Ranks 7th in U.S. for Solar Jobs

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Environment Texas

AUSTIN – Environment Texas today released new data showing that Texas has the 7th most solar-related jobs in the country with an estimated 3,346 people employed by the solar industry.  Environment Texas was joined in releasing the new data at the Las Casas Verde Solar subdivision in South Austin.

The new data comes from an annual report by The Solar Foundation, a nonprofit solar education and research organization, which quantifies current employment and projected growth of the solar workforce in the United States.  The report, titled National Solar Jobs Census 2011: A Review of the U.S. Solar Workforce shows that hiring in the solar industry is on the rise.  Nearly half of solar employers nationally plan to increase their workforce in the next year, while only two percent expect to cut employment.

“The sun generates more energy in an hour than all the coal mines and oil wells in the world do in a year, and without dangerous pollution that puts our environment and health at risk,” said Luke Metzger, Director of Environment Texas. “This report shows that solar jobs are putting people to work here in Texas and across the country to repower our economy while protecting our environment and health.”

As of August 2011, the National Solar Jobs Census 2011 found that here in Texas:
•    There are an estimated 3,346 people employed in the solar industry, ranking Texas 7th in the country for the most solar jobs;
•    There are 665 establishments employing solar workers.
And, nationally the report found that:
•    There are more than 100,000 solar workers across the country at more than 17,000 different locations;
•    This represents an overall growth rate of 6.8 percent over the past year, nearly ten times higher than the national average employment growth rate of 0.7 percent;
•    The solar industry is expected to continue rapid growth over the next year, increasing solar workers by almost 24 percent, or by approximately 24,000 jobs in 2012; and,
•    This growth represents added jobs across all sectors of the solar industry – from installation and sales to manufacturing and trade jobs.

“More than 100,000 Americans work in the solar industry, double the number in 2009. Solar is a proven job creator at a time when the unemployment rate for the country remains stubbornly high,” said Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association.

The survey is an update of The Solar Foundation’s 2010 comprehensive analysis of the U.S. solar workforce and includes information about all types of companies engaged in the production, sale, installation, and use of all solar technologies, ranging from photovoltaics to concentrating solar power to solar thermal systems for the residential, commercial, and utility sectors.

The National Solar Jobs Census 2011 was conducted by The Solar Foundation, BW Research Partnership’s Green LMI Division and Cornell University.

“Las Casas Verdes has created more than 6 permanent and 12 part time jobs over the past 3 years here in Austin,” said David E. Martin, Architect, Builder and Developer of the Las Casas Verde project. “In addition, it employees over 12 subcontracting firms in Austin and the surrounding counties that employee between 3 and 30 people each.   I would estimate that we directly affect at least 100 families with our one small solar project and we are proud to be a part of the solar economy that is creating real, sustainable, domestic jobs.  In addition, we are working to help homeowners better control their energy costs while reducing harmful pollution.  Our “lived- in” model home has an average monthly electric bill of only $35.00 for the past year and because our homes also integrate rainwater, our water bill averaged only $12.00 a month.”

This growth in the solar industry is the result of policies designed to promote solar as it scales up, including federal incentives, state rebates, and state utility requirements including renewable energy standards.  Key federal incentives, including the so-called Treasury Grant Program, are set to expire at the end of the year.

“At a time when many companies and whole sectors were slowing down, the solar industry has maintained strong growth over the past 12 months and is projected to keep growing at a much faster pace than the overall U.S. economy. Texas directly benefits from the 3,346 residents working in the solar industry,” said Metzger.  “We look forward to working with our state’s elected officials and leaders in Washington to make solar a centerpiece of our nation’s energy policy, and to accelerate the environmental and economic benefits Texas will get from further growth of the solar industry. “

“The Legislature helped create a boom for wind power in Texas. Now it’s time our politicians to help promote solar energy in Texas by creating incentives for homeowners and businesses to install solar power,” said Metzger.