Wisconsin ranks 26th in the nation in the number of solar industry jobs and trails all surrounding states in projected growth for 2016, according to a report from The Solar Foundation.
The foundation’s annual jobs census found the state has 1,941 jobs related to solar with a projected growth of 7.6 percent this year. The surrounding states of Illinois, 13.2 percent, Michigan, 14.3 percent, Iowa, 9.9 percent, and Minnesota, 20.5 percent are projected to outpace Wisconsin in solar jobs growth. Among those, only Iowa trails Wisconsin in the number of solar jobs at 349.
Tyler Huebner, RENEW Wisconsin executive director, said the state is not doing enough to take advantage of job creation and economic development opportunities created by solar technologies.
“While Wisconsin’s solar industry employment is holding steady, nationally, the solar industry grew by 20 percent for the third straight year,” Huebner said.
He said the state needs better net metering policies, clarification on third-party ownership and interconnection policies that govern connections to the local utility grid.
The nation now has almost 208,000 solar jobs, with California leading the way at 75,598. Massachusetts is second at 15,095, followed by Nevada and New York at 8,764 and 8,250 respectively.
In Wisconsin, the majority of jobs are in installation at 1,021. The state ranks 18th in solar manufacturing jobs with 354, 19th in sales and distribution at 224, 20th in project development at 202 and another 151 are in the “other” category.
The state’s 175 solar companies ranks 18th in the nation while the 3,976 solar powered homes ranks 30th. The report did note that Kohl’s is one of the nation’s top five corporate users of solar power and generates 500 kilowatts of energy from solar at three of its Wisconsin stores.
Wisconsin had 21.9 megawatts of capacity installed through the third quarter of 2015, putting the state 30th in capacity.
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