Solar energy isn’t just enhancing sustainability and reducing our dependence on fossil fuels. It’s also changing the employment landscape in the U.S., adding new jobs by the tens of thousands each year, and boasting a diverse workforce as well as healthy compensation rates.
But which states are making the biggest strides when it comes to solar employment opportunities? Home Improvement Leads shares how the following states are home to exceptional efforts to expand the solar industry.
Most Solar Jobs: California, Massachusetts, Nevada, New York
According to the Solar Foundation’s Solar Jobs Census, by November 2015, California employed 75,598 solar workers. While a large portion of the solar capacity installed was utility-scale, the residential market isn’t exactly lagging; California accounted for nearly 50% of all cumulative residential solar capacity in the U.S. at the time. Employers are optimistic about continued growth.
Thanks to strong commitment at the policy level, Massachusetts comes up second behind California when it comes to total solar jobs (15,095), followed by Nevada and New York.
Most Solar Jobs per Capita: Nevada, Massachusetts, Vermont
Nevada also ranks high in this category, boasting 48.5% growth in 2015. Unfortunately, net metering rates imposed by utility companies have made residential rooftop solar installation less accessible in recent months. In Massachusetts, on the other hand, on-site residential systems don’t count toward the state’s on-site net metering caps and the future of rooftop solar installations looks a little more promising. Vermont also tops the list thanks to a strong net-metering program and the resulting willingness of customers to invest in solar energy systems and fuel the state’s clean energy use.
Highest Percent Solar Capacity Growth: South Carolina, Utah
Utah’s solid net-metering policy and A-rate interconnection plans make it simple for solar converts to get started and easily connect to the grid, which is why the state is one of the fastest growing when it comes to solar capacity. South Carolina doesn’t impress when it comes to interconnection policy, but it did invest $10 million in solar installations in 2015, pushing it to the top of this particular list with 4 MW installed — a 303% growth over the course of a single year.
Other High-Ranking States
Thanks to abundant solar resources and emerging support of clean energy, Texas provided nearly 7,000 solar workers with jobs in 2014. It’s slated to make it near the top of the list for fastest growing percentage of jobs, particularly in residential installations. In the 2015 census, New Jersey followed on the heels of New York in the category of total jobs. Maryland has grown 25% in the rooftop PV market.
Unfortunately, both Hawaii and Nevada have been dethroned from their high ranking spots in recent months with unfriendly net-metering policies. But many other states are making notable progress in solar, including North Carolina, Colorado, Florida, New Mexico, Oregon, and others. With the growth of public and political flavor growing, as well as possibilities for more accessible storage solutions, the solar industry will likely to continue experiencing speedy job growth.
About the Author
Hannah West is the author of a young adult novel, Kingdom of Ash and Briars, debuting in fall 2016. Her freelance writing resume covers everything from addiction treatment to fashion, but she is especially passionate about her writing for Modernize.com with the goal of empowering green homeowners with the expert guidance and educational tools they need to take on big eco-friendly home projects with confidence.