"Growth year for solar energy creates 17,000 new jobs despite harsh recession"
Sign the Solar Bill of Rights
Guest blogger Rhone Resch is President and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association.
As Americans, we make decisions by finding a balance between personal values and pragmatism — is it the right thing to do and is an effective solution or improvement? This balance persuades us to order a salad instead of fries or to buy a hybrid car instead of a Hummer. Or, in my family’s case, installing a solar photovoltaic system on my roof instead of relying on electricity from the nearest coal plant.
For us, national energy policy works the same way. Environmental conservation and the free market shape our decisions for better or for worse. This week’s release of the 2009 US Solar Industry Year in Review report shows, thankfully, that Americans are beginning to make the right choice. Statistics show that despite a harsh recession, the solar industry added new solar electric installations totaling 441 megawatts, pulled in $1.4 billion in new venture capital investments, created 17,000 new jobs and grew by 36 percent in annual revenue.
While coal and oil companies laid off workers or stayed static, the photovoltaic solar sector grew by 37% percent, three new concentrating solar plants came online and public awareness and support grew. Despite an unprecedented lobbying effort by the coal and oil industries, solar saw increased support from the White House, Congress and state governments. We saw unprecedented renewable energy provisions in the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, watched the establishment of a new Treasury Grant Program and the lifting of the $2,000 cap on the residential investment tax credit for solar thermal installations. The growth in the solar industry is proving that these policy investments are paying off.
Solar now boasts a total supply chain that supports 46,000 jobs in the United States, a number that is likely to surpass 60,000 by the end of 2010. With Earth Day fast approaching, diversifying our energy portfolio with clean sources that will combat global warming while making us more energy secure is becoming a pivotal political issue as well. Solar creates jobs across a wide array of occupations without polluting our air or water like fossil fuels, and doesn’t enrich questionable foreign entities.
For these reasons, solar fits into our culture of economic freedom and national independence. Recognizing this, I and 2,000 other Americans have signed the Solar Bill of Rights, a grassroots movement for leveling the playing field for solar – an energy source that 92 percent of Americans say they want more of, now. SBOR signers believe America can do better in supporting innovations that spur domestic growth and entrepreneurship without sacrificing security, health and economic comfort.
With spring being the time for renewed energy, we should all redouble our efforts to bring solar further into the mainstream energy market. Let’s fight for policies that will open up markets, form stronger industry coalitions, spread public and political awareness and create jobs.
Environmental conservation and energy development are two of my strongest personal values. That’s why I chose solar for my home and for my profession. It works, and creates work when people need it.
— Rhone Resch
JR: You can sign the Solar Bill of Rights here:
1. Americans have the right to put solar on their homes and businesses”¦more
2. Americans have the right to connect their solar energy system to the grid with uniform national standards”¦more
3. Americans have the right to net meter and be compensated at the very least with full retail electricity rates”¦more
4. The solar industry has the right to a fair competitive environment”¦more
5. The solar industry has the right to produce clean energy on public lands”¦more
6. The solar industry has the right to sell its power across a new, 21st century transmission grid”¦more
7. Americans have the right to buy solar electricity from their utility”¦more
8. Americans have the right to – and should expect – the highest ethical treatment from the solar industry”¦more