Solar jobs eclipse coal jobs

There’s long been a perception that fossil fuels were insurmountable, and solar and other renewables would forever be bit players. And if all the fancy advertising and PR flaks were to be believed, the only job creators are coal mine owners. Well, we’ve got some great news debunking these perceptions. Solar now employs more Americans than coal.

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A new 2012 Solar Jobs Census from our friends at The Solar Foundation show that 119,000 Americans now work in solar, while just 86,000 work for coal corporations. In fact, the solar industry is growing much faster than the economy as a whole. In 2012, the number of solar jobs increased by 13.2 percent, even as the US economy grew 2.3 percent and fossil fuel jobs as a whole shrank. In our little corner of Vermont, SunCommon has created 46 new green jobs in the last year alone.

As prices for solar equipment have come down across the country (by nearly 60 percent in the last 2 years), installations have been ramping up nation wide. This year, installed solar is expected to increase 44 percent over 2011!

This ramp-up has benefited companies, workers, and homeowners across the spectrum. According to the census, all sectors of the solar industry have seen growth–from installation to financing to manufacturing, though the biggest gains have come on the installation side.

How has this shift been possible? Because installing solar systems requires real people designing the systems, real people to handle the financing, and most of all, the trained electricians who climb on your roof in the heat or in the snow to install your system. These aren’t jobs you can outsource overseas or turn over to machines (or dynamite like the coal industry does). These are good, solid, well-paying jobs in cities and towns across America – and right here in Vermont.

We’re in the midst of a huge transition right now—from the dirty, polluting energy of the 19th century to the clean, renewable, and local power of the 21st century. And with our winters getting warmer, and storms getting stronger — it couldn’t be coming at a better time for Vermonters.

Things are looking up!

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