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Are San Antonio green jobs ripe for the taking?

Monday, July 18th, 2011

A new estimate by One Block off the Grid shows that San Antonio green jobs could be a hotbed for job seekers.

Approximately 107,000 U.S. state and local level jobs could be created within a short period of time if solar energy policies were established or improved in the U.S. The figure represents six to ten percent of total U.S. job creation over the last two years.

Among the states the report identifies as having the greatest potential for solar job creation were: Texas, Florida, Virginia, Missouri, Georgia, Washington, Tennessee, South Carolina, Louisiana, and Michigan.

Whether the jobs are entry-level San Antonio jobs or otherwise was not specified.

The report also estimates that roughly 245,000 jobs could be created over a longer period if U.S. states were to establish a policy known as a feed-in tariff, which pays above-market rates to homeowners for the solar energy they feed back into the grid. This policy has been strongly linked to high rates of residential solar adoption in Germany, where there is one solar job for approximately every 1,000 people. By comparison, the report estimates there is currently one solar job for every 4,000 people in the United States.

The full results of the report, entitled, “Solar Saves America: Job Creation Estimates by State” will be published on August 1, 2011.

In an opinion poll conducted by One Block Off the Grid, 19 out of 23 solar company CEOs said they “strongly agreed” that strengthening state solar policies would lead to more hiring at their companies. Below is a sampling of the responses to the poll.

“As soon as Wisconsin lawmakers create stronger solar policies like SRECs here, I can start hiring and putting solar panels on all the homes, farms, and businesses that want them,” said Todd Timmerman of Timmerman’s Talents LLC in Platteville, Wisconsin. “Our state does have some incentives, but not enough to allow me to expand my business the way I’d like.”

“Georgia is ideal for solar, but utilities here have far too much sway over our state energy policy,” said Steve Barker, CEO of Walker Solar Power in Mansfield, Georgia. “Before I can start hiring, lawmakers have to stand up to them and create real solar policies in our state. It’s time.”

“Many, many homeowners want to go solar in New York, but without better incentives in place, they don’t have a framework for doing that yet,” said George Demakos, President & CEO of Renewable Energy Solutions Systems in Port Washington, New York. “If the New York Solar Jobs Act passes here and SRECs are put in place, consumer demand for solar will be unleashed, and I’ll probably have a hard time hiring as many people as I need to keep up with demand.”