ST. PETERSBURG, FL – A new report from The Solar Foundation (TSF), a national non-profit research organization, finds more than 4,000 Floridians are now working in the solar power industry and Florida has jumped from twelfth to seventh place overall in national rankings for solar jobs. Solar jobs grew by approximately 60% from 2012 to 2013, according to the census. These strong results show that Florida is poised to see even more new solar jobs created as new commercial and residential solar projects are installed throughout the state in the next few years. Florida has some of the strongest solar power potential in the country, yet the state’s utilities have barely begun tap into Florida’s solar and human resources.
“More than 4,000 Floridians are working to power our homes and businesses with affordable clean energy that helps clean our air and protect our communities,” said Faye Roller, education director with Solar Source Institute. “Solar jobs grew at a huge rate between 2012 and 2013, too. What other industry in Florida grew at a 60% rate? To help continue this strong job growth, state leaders and utilities should prioritize common-sense solutions such as allowing power purchase agreements in Florida and incentivizing home owners and businesses to go solar.”
But as Florida’s rank as a solar employer improves, the state’s rank as a solar power producer has fallen in recent years. The Sierra Club and the Sunshine State Clean Energy Coalition are working to push Duke Energy, now the nation’s largest utility company, to invest in solar energy and energy efficiency solutions for Florida. Duke Energy is currently investing more in solar projects and efficiency programs in other states in its service territory and has even built research facilities in Texas, where it does not sell power. The coalition is holding a state-wide day of action today, generating phone calls to Duke Energy’s CEO Lynn Good, asking her to invest in Florida’s solar jobs potential. The Coalition, launched in late 2013, is working to collect 10,000 petition signatures calling for more solar in Duke Energy’s service territory.
In December 2012, the Sierra Club opened its Net Zero Energy Office with three other businesses in St. Petersburg. The building features state of the art solar, geothermal and efficiency technology, and regularly produces more energy than it consumes.
“With all this solar potential, you’d think utilities like Duke Energy would be racing to build residential and commercial solar projects here in Florida,” said Julia Hathaway, Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal organizer in Florida. “Instead, Duke is backtracking on key programs that helped solar get started in Florida, even canceling the program that helped the Sierra Club put solar panels on its St. Petersburg office. Duke can do better for Floridians.”
State solar employment figures were generated using thousands of data points from a combination of high-quality sources, including TSF’s highly-acclaimed National Solar Jobs Census 2013, the Solar Energy Industries Association’s National Solar Database, and other sources. While the margin of error for some of the smaller solar jobs states remains wide, these numbers are believed to be the most credible and up-to-date state-level solar jobs numbers in existence. The NationalSolar Jobs Census 2013 was conducted by TSF and BW Research Partnership with support from The George Washington University’s Solar Institute. The National Solar Jobs Census 2013 and separate district-level Census reports for California, Arizona and Minnesota, are available at www.tsfcensus.org.