Solar employment stays hot

The solar power industry continues to sizzle in California.

The industry added a record 20,000 jobs last year in the Golden State, a leap of 38 percent, according to an industry study released Wednesday.

California tops the nation in solar jobs with 75,500 workers, according to an annual census produced by the non-profit Solar Foundation. Most of the expansion came from installation companies hiring skilled labor as demand for rooftop solar grows. The sales and distribution and manufacturing sectors also added jobs.

Bernadette Del Chiaro, executive director of the California Solar Energy Industries Association, said the growth is spread throughout the state. “While conventional energy industries are losing jobs, we are seeing record growth, and bringing clean air and climate solutions along the way,” she said in a statement.

State regulators gave the industry a huge boost last month by extending tax breaks and favorable rates for solar customers.

The industry grew in 33 states last year, expanding most rapidly in Rhode Island, South Carolina, Nebraska, Tennessee and Louisiana, according to the research.

The job growth was also reflected in the amount of solar resources installed last year. Domestic capacity grew 18.5 percent, topping 27 gigawatts of power.

The solar industry has nearly doubled in size since the foundation’s first census in 2010. The sector employed 173,000 U.S. workers last year.

File Photo: Installers with rooftop solar panels  (Kristopher Skinner/Bay Area News Group)



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