The Solar Foundation has announced the findings from its yearly report on solar power employment in the U.S. and unsurprisingly, South Carolina added more than 1,000 solar power jobs in 2016. According to the report, the industry employed 1,764 in 2015 and that number jumped to 2,772 in 2016. Nationwide, solar industry employment outpaced the overall U.S. economy by 17 times as it increased by over 51,000 jobs, for a total of 260,077 U.S. solar workers. Beside explosive job growth, the solar industry is offering South Carolinians the opportunity to invest in energy independence while also lowering their monthly power bills.
"Solar jobs are on the rise in South Carolina – if you have spent time in the state recently, you can see the panels on roofs and hear people talk about increasing their energy security and independence by investing in solar," said Gresham Barrett, former South Carolina congressman and founder of the Palmetto Conservative Solar Coalition. "We need to continue to promote free market principles to support a growing solar industry in the state, which is creating well-paying local jobs that cannot be outsourced. I support legislative leaders removing barriers to the solar power industry in South Carolina."
Last year, stakeholders came together to create the Palmetto Conservative Solar Coalition (PCSC), as a venue to promote removing barriers and to encourage free-market principles to support solar. Thanks to leadership from the legislature and Governor Haley, the local solar industry has been on a tear – employment grew faster than any other state in the Southeast in 2016.
"Solar in South Carolina just makes sense – and we are glad that consumers have finally realized all the great benefits of going solar," said Sean Hayes, Business Development Associate at Palmetto Solar. "We have seen increased interest in solar over the past year – and the removal of policy barriers will ensure we can continue to hire more electricians, roofers, engineers, and sales employees and bring energy savings to South Carolinians," finished Hayes.
In 2014, the South Carolina legislature unanimously voted to pass historic solar energy legislation, Act 236, which legalized solar leasing and net metering—a policy that enables the right to self generation and gives fair credit for power sent to back to the grid. These policies allow solar companies to create thousands of high-quality, local jobs in the state.
There are potential barriers on the horizon that could hamstring further growth. The State is at risk of reaching the cap on net metering in 2017. PCSC and its allies look forward to working with the legislature and utilities to find a solution and continue job and economic growth across the state.