Tuesday, February 17, 2015

More People in Arizona are Getting Solar Industry Jobs

Posted By on Tue, Feb 17, 2015 at 5:00 PM

  • Courtesy of Shutterstock
The solar industry in the state has more than 600 new jobs (a 7.2 percent growth), raking Arizona third in the nation in number of solar gigs, according to a report by the nonprofit The Solar Foundation.

More than 9,000 Arizonans worked in the solar biz last year. 

"The findings highlight the enormous job potential in Arizona for a clean energy transition from (Tucson Electric Power's) out-of-state San Juan Generating Station coal-fired power plant," a press release from the Sierra Club says.

About two weeks ago, I reported that a coalition of state environmental, community and business groups, including the Sierra Club, sent out an announcement urging TEP to get its hands off the New Mexico-based coal-fired power plant San Juan Generating Station. The groups said they would like for TEP to focus on local, clean energy solutions like rooftop solar.

“With enormous clean energy potential, the growth in solar jobs in Arizona demonstrates the vast opportunities we have to transition from coal to clean energy here in Arizona,” said a statement from Katharine Kent, president of The Solar Store in Tucson. “Rather than continuing to dump money into an expensive, out-of-state coal-fired power plant, TEP should move forward with a clean energy transition from its out-of-state coal plant that embraces rooftop solar here at home and creates even more jobs here in Arizona.”

From the Sierra Club release:
Support for continued burning of coal at the San Juan Generating Station has fallen as admissions by the company have revealed serious financial risks for the future of the plant. Earlier this month, the home city of the plant, Farmington, New Mexico, announced it would not acquire an increased stake in the plant due to reliability concerns and the huge costs that would be passed on to the community. Other New Mexico stakeholders have also pulled away from an agreement that would continue PNM’s use of coal at the plant, citing the overall uncertainty about San Juan’s operations. TEP owns half of one unit of the plant, which presents huge financial risks to local Tucson ratepayers if the utility continues its investment in the expensive, outdated coal-fired power plant.
“Our community faces enormous threats if TEP leads us down a path of continued reliance on coal at the San Juan Generating Station,” said Dan Millis, Tucson organizer for Sierra Club’s Grand Canyon (Arizona) Chapter, in a statement. “By increasing the amount of power we get from clean energy like solar, we will create good jobs for workers here at home, protect families and small businesses from expensive coal rate hikes, and secure a stronger future for our communities.”

The top two states are California where nearly 55,000 people work in the industry, and Massachusetts, with 9,400 solar jobs.

Check out the study here: a cool interactive map

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