It's a pretty big number, $1.42 billion, especially in Colorado where the solar industry is still relatively new. A recent report from The Solar Foundation and the Colorado Solar Energy Industries Association (COSEIA) found that solar energy has brought $1.42 billion in benefits to the state. The report looked at Colorado's solar growth since 2007, when the industry started growing after former Gov. Bill Ritter (D) signed the state’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS) into law.
The report, "An Assessment of the Economic, Revenue, and Societal Impacts of Colorado's Solar Industry,'' also found that the economic development created the equivalent of 10,700 full-time jobs and that those employees have earned more than $534 million since 2007. The Solar Foundation on behalf of COSIEA was asked to prepare the report, which assessed the roughly 250 megawatts of solar installed in the state by the first quarter of 2013. Photovoltaics (PV) have also generated between $34.1 million and $59.7 million in state and local tax revenue.
"The hard statistics in this report illustrate the unquestionable contribution solar development makes to state economic development,'' said Piper Foster, COSEIA board president. "COSEIA is proud to publicize facts about the jobs engine that is solar energy.''
"Solar energy is ready to play a major role in Colorado's future,'' said COSEIA’s Rebecca Cantwell, director of its Solar Friendly Communities program. "It creates jobs, strengthens local economies, cuts air pollution and conserves our precious water supplies. This report, for the first, time puts some hard numbers on a lot of those benefits.'' The Solar Friendly Communities program, which helps simplify and reduce the costs of permitting rooftop solar, commissioned the report.
The report could help make the case to state policymakers for more solar in Colorado. "As a homegrown Colorado solar company, we are excited about the possibility of Colorado policymakers and regulators taking a fresh look at the success of the solar industry in our state,'' said Jason Wiener General Counsel with Namaste Solar and a COSEIA board of directors members. “As the real benefits of solar PV become quantified, we hope policymakers, regulators and the utilities will take notice. We need all stakeholders to collaborate to remove barriers to the responsible deployment of solar and to develop appropriate market signals to protect and increase investment in this clean energy technology."
The report also looks forward to the future of PV in the Centennial state, including COSEIA’s goal of seeing 3 gigawatts of solar installed in the state by 2030—the equivalent of one million solar roofs in the state producing more than $3.85 billion in economic output. That will represent the equivalent of 32,500 full-time jobs and $1.9 billion in employee earnings.