90 Percent Of States Added Solar Jobs In 2013, Fueled By Growth In The South

CREDIT: United Nations Environment Program

California leads the way in solar jobs, but 18 other states more than doubled their solar jobs in 2013, according to a new map.

The map, published by the Solar Foundation as part of their National Solar Jobs Census, found that Southern states were some of the most active in creating solar jobs in 2012 — new solar jobs in North Carolina, Georgia, Texas and Louisiana accounted for nearly a quarter of the total new solar jobs added last year. In Georgia and North Carolina, solar installation jobs doubled, bringing their respective totals to 2,600 and 3,100. Both these states’ solar and renewable laws were in the news in 2013: last year in North Carolina, one lawmaker tried to repeal the state’s Renewable Energy Standard, which mandates North Carolina utilities to get 12.5 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2021. That attempt failed after North Carolina’s swine industry teamed up with environmentalists in support of the RES.

And last summer in Georgia, the Atlanta Tea Party teamed up with state environmental groups to call on the state’s largest utility to expand its development of solar energy. In July, the Georgia Public Service Commission voted in favor of a plan that requires Georgia Power Co. to up its solar capacity by 525 megawatts by the end of 2016.

But despite the growth in the South, the report found California to be the number one state for solar employment, supporting a total of 47,223 solar jobs — a third of the nation’s total — and adding 3,523 solar jobs since 2012. California has several policies and programs that are friendly to solar and other renewables, including Go Solar California, which has a goal of installing 3,000 megawatts of solar energy on homes and businesses by the end of 2016. Solar employers in California expect the solar job market to continue to grow in 2014, predicting 10,500 new jobs in the state this year.

Overall, the U.S. added more than 23,600 solar jobs last year, bringing the total to 142,698 solar workers, according to the Solar Foundation.