08 Jul Solar Energy Fuels Quality Job Growth
The most unique and vibrant communities in Maine have a thriving local business community. We vote with our dollars to support these businesses, which in turn helps support the local community. This a symbiotic relationship that benefits residents and the business community alike.
So how do clean energy jobs fit into the equation? There were 3.3 million clean energy jobs in the United States at the end of 2019, and the renewable energy sector has become a major source of employment. The solar industry alone has created nearly 335,000 jobs as of the end of 2019.
Solar Energy Boosts the Economy
Renewable energy can serve the dual purposes of promoting economic activity while protecting the environment. The solar industry demonstrates that economic growth and climate change mitigation can be compatible goals.
Unlike fossil fuels, renewable energy has no fuel charges. This keeps energy dollars in the local economy instead of exporting them away. The design and installation of solar systems create an economic opportunity for local communities through job creation and energy cost savings. With the spike in unemployment in Maine and beyond, job growth is more important than ever.
Solar Industry Creates Quality Stable Jobs
“There are many high-quality jobs available throughout the solar industry that rely on a variety of skills,” says Chuck Piper, co-owner of Sundog Solar. “This includes numerous construction, office, and manufacturing jobs. We also believe in paying the Sundog Solar team a living wage and giving back to the community.”
The solar energy industry employs electricians, solar installers, system designers, inventory managers, and other roles. Some positions require education and others involve primarily on-the-job training. Skilled and experienced solar professionals are in particularly high demand because they are in short supply. This is because solar energy has grown in popularity so dramatically in the last decade.
Local Ownership Enhances the Benefits
Local businesses are more likely to use local banks, insurance brokers, builders, bookkeepers, and accountants. These companies are also more likely to purchase locally-produced goods and to make donations to local non-profit organizations. These actions recirculate money back into the community, creating greater economic benefits and more jobs. For every $100 spent in a locally-owned business, $68 stays in the community.
In Maine and elsewhere, some solar companies like Sundog Solar are locally owned. This helps local communities capture more economic value. Unfortunately, Maine lags behind many other states in clean energy jobs. This is poised to change, however, due to recent solar energy legislation that is promoting installations across Maine. Also, the federal tax credit will be in effect through the end of 2021. This incentive significantly reduces the net cost of installing solar panels in Maine and across the U.S.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists solar photovoltaic installers and wind turbine service technicians as the two fastest-growing jobs between 2018 and 2028.
Meanwhile, jobs in coal extraction are decreasing due to a decrease in U.S. coal consumption. As coal power plants close, future coal demand is expected to also decline.