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Welcome Boost in Jobs

At a time when a primary concern for the U.S. is jobs, unemployment, and underemployment, news of job growth is always good and welcomed.

Further, news of job growth in an industry plagued by setbacks and challenges can flip an industry from crippled confidence to burgeoning.

On November 2nd, The Solar Foundation (TSF) announced encouraging statistics showing despite recent false starts and layoffs, the U.S. solar industry is expanding nearly six times more than that of the overall economy. The report reiterates and adds to the credibility of earlier studies suggesting a similar boom in the solar industry, though the TSF data measured September 2011 to September 2012, whereas other data collected has compared month-to-month statistics.

According to TSF’s National Solar Jobs Census 2012, the U.S. solar industry added 13,872 jobs between September 2011 and September 2012, bringing the total of employed solar industry workers to 119,016. The leap represents a 13.2 percent growth in employment, compared to a 2.3 percent growth in employment in the overall economy. The solar industry represents the cutting edge for not only technology, but also for society and employment.

Only about 25 percent of Americans have a place to install solar power, omitting shady roofs, renters, and other factors. Further, the high upfront cost of a complete solar system, the potential for solar energy dwindles more. However, there is a solution: community solar. Colorado’s “community solar gardens” program, after a long wait on the state’s Public Utilities Commission to finalize the rules, sold out installations after 30 minutes of being open. The program allows individuals to subscribe or buy shares in a local solar project, and in return receive a share of the electricity output.

Community solar projects are not a new concept, but gaining traction has been difficult in other areas, usually due to strained relationships between the consumer and utilities. This does not mean these solutions shouldn’t be pursued though, and the success of each adds credibility to the overall program.

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