A new report finds Pennsylvania is the number-two state in the country, when it comes to jobs created by solar power. But an industry advocate says the picture will change quickly, if state lawmakers don’t pass new energy standards next year.
The National Solar Jobs Census shows California is the runaway leader for solar jobs, with about 36-thousand. Pennsylvania comes in second, with an estimated 67-hundred employees working in the industry.
Maureen Mulligan, a spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Solar Energy Industries Association says the state’s 2004 alternative energy portfolio is a main reason for the strong showing.
But she warns the solar industry is now producing more power than the measure requires Pennsylvania utilities to purchase, so the legislation needs to be updated.
"Solar is in this state of limbo, and until the requirement is increased in year 2013 and 14, we’re going to have a very flat market here in Pennsylvania, unless the legislature acts, and acts now."
York County Democratic Representative Eugene DePasquale says a strong solar industry helps other portions of the economy.
"Obviously the installation has to happen locally. So local contractors are the ones – local electrical workers, other local contractors are involved in the installation of this, as well. Which helps the local economy. So this is good for job growth – both locally, and in the manufacturing sector. It’s good for the consumers who install it."
Advocates also credit solar grants and rebates in the expiring federal stimulus package with boosting the solar economy. Mulligan says the solar industry still needs government incentives and assistance, as it develops into a mainstream source of energy.