Environment & Science

California solar industry added 7,500 jobs in a year

The Edward C. Little Water Recycling Facility in El Segundo houses a 60,000 square foot solar power generating system.
The Edward C. Little Water Recycling Facility in El Segundo houses a 60,000 square foot solar power generating system.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC

Listen to story

00:55
Download this story 1MB

Jobs in California's solar industry increased by nearly 7,500 from October 2013 to October 2014. The nearly 16 percent increase outpaced the state’s overall job growth rate for the same time period by more than 10 times.

The jobs figures were released by the nonprofit organization The Solar Foundation on Thursday. The report California Jobs Census 2014 was conducted by researchers from the George Washington University Solar Institute, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), the U.S. Department of Energy, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC).

The study found that as of October, nearly 55,000 people were working in California’s solar industry. That number exceeds the number employed by the state’s five largest utilities, according to a separate analysis by CALSEIA.

National job growth numbers were even higher than California’s, with American solar industry jobs increasing by nearly 22 percent.

Despite the double-digit increase, California missed projections of job growth for the year by about 3000 positions. The report attributes that to increased labor efficiency in “a large, mature solar industry.” It states that 9,400 additional jobs are expected to be added in 2015.

The report states that job growth could be curbed in the future by scheduled reductions to a 30 percent investment tax credit (ITC). Commercial projects will see a reduction down to 10 percent; residential credits will be gone after 2016.

“Looking ahead, employers are apprehensive about the impact scheduled changes to the ITC will have on employment. Current leading industry research projects a 60% decline in new installed capacity between 2016 and 2017, with the utility market segment to be hit the hardest,” the report states.

California Solar Jobs Census 2014