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Cecile Gernez,
Environment Washington

New Report Finds Jobs from Solar Power Booming Nationally, Lagging in Washington State

Pending Legislation in Olympia Could Boost Solar in Washington
For Immediate Release

Seattle, WA. – Nationally, the solar industry continues to create jobs and spur economic development at a fast rate, but, according to a new report by the Solar Foundation, Washington State is beginning to lag in solar job creation. The report found that the solar industry employed a total of 2,262 people in Washington State in 2015, compared to 2,400 in 2014.

“This report provides further evidence that solar is not only good for the environment and our energy future, it’s also good for the economy, growing jobs in communities across the nation,” said Jaimes Valdez, Policy Manager with Northwest SEED. “But we can’t afford to fall behind in Washington, and miss this opportunity to create jobs and equitable clean energy investments. We need strong policies in Washington State to support continued solar energy growth, and our state leaders can do more to motivate local economic development, community benefits and good paying jobs.”

The Solar Foundation’s State Solar Jobs Census 2015 found that jobs in the solar industry nationally continue to grow almost 12 times faster than the overall economy since 2014. The U.S. solar industry currently employs 208,859 workers, a figure which represents 20.2 percent growth in employment over 2014. For the third consecutive year, employment in the solar industry increased 20% or more.

According to the report, some states saw significant increases in jobs from solar alone in 2015. For example, Colorado added nearly 800 jobs, Maryland nearly 1,300, and Oregon 900. However, Washington State fell behind the pack, and is no longer in the top 20 of leading states in the nation for solar jobs.

“For the past ten years the State of Washington has been a solid partner in the effort to build the solar energy industry here,” said Jeremy Smithson of Puget Sound Solar. “We are looking forward to extending that partnership so we can continue to create the jobs and clean energy that will power Washington's future.”

A September 2015 Environment Washington report, Lighting the Way III: The Top Ten States that Helped Drive America’s Solar Energy Boom in 2014, found that the states who ranked the highest for solar per capita were those with policies that allow increasing numbers of homeowners, businesses, communities and utilities to “go solar.”

State legislators in Olympia are currently considering legislation that would extend the Washington State Renewable Cost Recovery Incentive Program (HB 2346). This program has effectively encouraged thousands of Washington State residents and businesses to invest in and install solar in their neighborhoods, creating local economic growth and jobs. If legislators don’t act, the program expires in 2020.

“Solar is booming nationally and holds great potential in Washington State, but only if state leaders act to support solar,” said Bruce Speight, Environment Washington Director. “We urge state leaders to support HB 2346, so that Washington, like other states, can reap the tremendous environmental and economic benefits of solar.”

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Environment Washington is a statewide advocacy organization bringing people together for a cleaner, greener, healthier future. www.EnvironmentWashington.org

Northwest Sustainable Energy for Economic Development creates communities powered by locally controlled clean energy, through technical support, education, advocacy, and project implementation. www.nwseed.org