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Minnesota solar jobs more than doubled in past two years, with bright future ahead for state’s solar industry

2/10/2016 12:04:16 PM

SAINT PAUL – The number of solar jobs in Minnesota more than doubled during the past two years and, thanks to solar-friendly state and federal policies, the job surge is expected to continue, according to the 2015 Minnesota Solar Jobs Census.

The Census, compiled by The Solar Foundation and funded in part by the Minnesota Department of Commerce, reports that Minnesota added 1,131 solar workers between 2013 and 2015, a 131 percent increase. Nearly 2,000 Minnesotans are currently employed statewide in solar-related jobs that include manufacturing, sales and distribution, project development and installation. Solar employers project a 20 percent increase in solar workers for Minnesota in 2016.

“This is fantastic news for Minnesota, and further proof that our clean energy policies are working,” said Lt. Governor Tina Smith. “We aren’t done yet. Governor Dayton and I strongly support bold action to tackle climate change, protect air quality and public health, and create additional clean energy jobs for Minnesotans.”

“Minnesota’s solar job success is driven by innovative public policies and market forces,” said Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman. “We expect solar power in Minnesota to expand dramatically from 35 megawatts in 2015 to at least 1,000 megawatts by 2020. This growth in clean energy is great news for both our economy and our environment. The classic Beatles song says it best: Here comes the sun.”

“Solar jobs are growing across the country, and that growth is being fueled by strong market forces and an increasing number of creative state incentives and programs, like those we see in Minnesota,” said Andrea Luecke, President and Executive Director of The Solar Foundation. “Supporting solar PV is essential for helping Minnesota achieve its renewable energy goals. Additionally, it will provide tens of thousands of good paying, rewarding jobs for hard working Minnesotans.

In addition to the federal solar investment tax credit, the Census report highlights the positive impact of Minnesota’s clean energy policies on the growth in solar jobs, with a breakdown of jobs by county, metro area, and federal and state legislative district. 

In 2013, Minnesota passed the Solar Energy Standard that requires investor-owned utilities to obtain 1.5 percent of their electricity sales from solar by 2020, with a goal of 10 percent by 2030. In 2007, Minnesota added the Renewable Energy Standard, one of the nation’s most aggressive, which requires utilities to meet at least 25 percent of their retail electricity sales with renewable energy by 2025.  

Also spurring Minnesota’s solar market are new initiatives such as the Commerce-administered Made in Minnesota Solar Incentive Program and community solar projects, including Xcel Energy’s Solar*Rewards Program.

The Minnesota Solar Jobs Census report uses data collected via phone and email from businesses in the state to estimate employment growth in the solar industry between November 2014 and November 2015.

The Census was co-funded by the Minnesota Department of Commerce and several foundation grants to The Solar Foundation, including the Energy Foundation and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. 

The report can be downloaded at www.thesolarfoundation.org.

The Solar Foundation

The Solar Foundation® is an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose mission is to increase understanding of solar energy through strategic research and education that transform markets.

Minnesota Department of Commerce 

The Minnesota Department of Commerce is here to help. If you have a question about solar energy or the solar industry, contact the Energy Information Center by email at energy.info@state.mn.us or by phone at 651-539-1886 or 800-657-3710.

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