California Leads Nation in Solar Jobs

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Installing rooftop solar is a major job creator in California | Photo: John Utter/Flickr/Creative Commons License

California leads the nation in raw numbers of solar-power-related jobs, and is third in terms of solar jobs per capita according to a study by the Solar Foundation.

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According to the study, California is the only state with more than 10,000 people employed in the solar industry, with installation of new capacity the leading driver of solar employment in the state. The Solar Foundation tallied 43,700 Californian solar jobs all told. One in 419 Californian jobs is in the solar field, which puts the state third in solar jobs per capita behind first-ranked Arizona, where 1 in 306 jobs in the state are in solar, and Hawaii, where the ratio is 1 in 399.

California also takes first place in the number of homes running on solar power, at 547,084.

Understandably enough, the news of California's high rank in the study was met with approval from solar advocates. "Solar power continues to prove itself as an economic driver and a vital source of jobs in California," said Evan Gillespie, Director of the Sierra Club's My Generation Campaign, in a press release. "While providing only a fraction of the state's energy, more people now work in the solar industry than at the state's two largest utilities. These jobs didn't magically appear, they're the result of smart energy policies that require further support and expansion, if we're going to continue to create jobs in 21st century industries like solar."

In case you're wondering, last place in the solar jobs per capita ranking was shared by Alabama and Oklahoma, which states have only 380 solar jobs between them despite abundant sunshine.

Speaking of green jobs, the Los Angeles Business Council Institute (LABC) announced today that research it sponsored shows Proposition 39 -- passed by voters in November to close a business tax loophole -- could create another 21,000 green jobs. The research, conducted with LABC's support by the Luskin Center for Innovation, showed that putting Prop 39 proceeds into a revolving loan fund similar to Kiva to fund clean energy and energy efficiency projects could generate over a billion dollars in new programs, four times what the money would generate if it was used for a straightforward grants program.

A joint bill currently working its way through the State Senate and Assembly -- SB and AB 39 -- would approve such a revolving loan fund populated by Prop 39's proceeds, which are expected to run between $50 million and $125 million per year. Proposition 39 required businesses to calculate their state sales tax contribution relative to the percentage of of their sales that are conducted in the state.

For ongoing environmental coverage in March 2017 and afterward, please visit our show Earth Focus, or browse Redefine for historic material.
KCET's award-winning environment news project Redefine ran from July 2012 through February 2017.

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