Encouraging news was published last week.
Avoiding any hyperbolic phrases, the facts speak for themselves. Almost 174,000 solar workers were counted in The Solar Foundation’s 2014 Census Report. Solar wears the Triple Crown: A carbon reducer, a secured energy provider, and a proven job enabler. Way to go solar energy industry. Now, how do we make sure the other shoe doesn’t drop?
Let’s traverse the stakeholder chain for a moment. First stop – the rules of the road have to support, in a reliable and safe way, distributed resources. Easy hook-ups, fair value, equitable credit, storage integration, and a whole lot of other rules need to be and stay in place. If back steps are taken (and they are happening), the results land squarely on fewer jobs. Poor or unfair rules equal job loss. Not good.
Second stop – and this is for the industry – short cuts on quality backfire. Inadequate training, poor workmanship, and misled consumers result in backlash, less installations, and fewer jobs. Also not good.
And, the third stop is for educators and trainers – don’t glut the market but rather design the training in sync with skill needs and job openings. Mismatch of training with employer needs ends in skill gaps and a less competent workforce. This we can avoid through credible credentials.
The other heartening news last week was in the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBL) report on home values, Selling into the Sun: Price Premium Analysis of a Multi-State Dataset of Solar Homes. Home buyers are willing to pay a premium for a home with solar. The study shows this is true in different housing markets and with various home types. Home buyers get it. The system on the roof is an asset.
Both of these reports encourage IREC to continue at full steam on its regulatory and workforce trajectory. We thank Andrea Luecke, Phil Jordan and their staffs for producing the Job Census report, a critical piece of the pie for solar recognition. And, our thanks to Ben Hoen, Ryan Wiser and their team at LBL for showing us that solar roofs are valuable roofs.
Image: Dennis Schroeder/NREL, with graphic edits by The Solar Foundation