Solar industry growing and hiring in slow economy, part 2

Another report later in the week revealed that renewable energy projects slated to break ground within the next 10 years in Central California will likely create more than 75,000 jobs.

Tom Cotter, Real Goods Solar sales manager for central California, said his company had a job fair last month. More than 500 people came to the fair and Real Goods hired 20 of them, Cotter said.

“So, that’s pretty unique in these times,” Cotter said. “The demand is there from our residential and commercial customers. And we’re responding to the demand.”

Cotter said that Real Goods made some good financial decisions going into the recession. That’s why it and a few other companies are thriving. Some other solar installation companies, especially those with heavy debt loads, went under. But Real Goods isn’t the only central California firm hiring.

Shawn Kantor, a professor at the University of California, Merced, found in his report on the San Joaquin Valley, for the California Business Alliance for a Green Economy, that a new high-speed rail system and dozens of clean energy projects, mostly solar, would create 103,000 jobs.

“As somebody who studies economic growth,” Kantor said. “And as somebody who lives here in this area, which really is a kind of poor place that lags behind the rest of the country, I was really surprised.”

He said he didn’t expect his report to find so much job growth in the green industry.

Of the green jobs that will be created, Kantor said more than three quarters will come from solar and other renewable energy projects.

Most will be one-year construction jobs.

“So one person could take five of those jobs,” he said. “But like I was saying earlier, in this area, just one job is better than no jobs.”

The San Joaquin Valley reported higher than 15 percent unemployment to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in July.

Story continues here.

Pictured: Real Goods Solar owner John Schaeffer poses with a row of solar arrays. Image courtesy of Real Goods Solar.
 

 

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