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Friday, May 24, 2024

Solar industry hopes to gain jobs in California

The solar industry may become a source of new jobs in California, according to a Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) study.

The study examined the effects of extending a current Department of the Treasury Grant Program into 2012. The extension, part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), would create 200,000 new jobs nationwide, including 60,000 in California. This would help power two million American homes by 2016, according to the SEIA study.

Mike Anderson, vice president of marketing at Solar Power, Inc., thinks it is a good economic decision to add more jobs to the growing solar energy sector.

“Anything to build back a robust economy is a good thing,” Anderson said. “Help get solar up and running. It’s saving people economically.”

Anderson, whose firm is based in Sacramento, emphasized looking toward alternative energy sources, such as solar, to help the American economy overall.

“Being addicted to oil is not serving our long term interests,” Anderson said, referring to the recent Gulf of Mexico oil spill. “We need to find alternate sources for energy that are sustainable and renewable.”

Solar Power, Inc. directly benefited from government subsidies through trickled-down ARRA funds. With the grant funding, the solar company will open a new solar manufacturing factory in Sacramento’s McClellan Business Park. The new facility, to open in 2011, will add 105 jobs in the solar industry.

“We are the Golden State, we are known for sunshine. We have a lot of sun to harvest,” Anderson said.

California Energy Commission spokesperson Amy Morgan said the solar industry received a boost in 2007 when Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a $3.3 billion initiative that promoted solar energy use throughout the state.

Since the program launched, there have been 50,000 new solar installations throughout California.

“[The program] is an incentive for builders for new homes and also [there are] incentives for consumers in commercial and agricultural industries [to use solar],” Morgan said.

The Centers of Excellence with California Community Colleges Economic and Workforce Development maintained statistics and research on the growing solar industry. According to their 2008 study, there are almost 800 solar firms in California, with the potential to add 5,000 solar jobs statewide.

With a greater financial and environmental interest in solar usage in California, more jobs will follow, Morgan said.

SASHA LEKACH can be reached at city@theaggie.org.


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