Gov. Terry McAullife (D) announced that employment in Virginia’s solar industry surged 65 percent in 2016, growing to 3,236 workers. That’s up from 1,963 workers in 2015. Figures from the Solar Energy Industries Association showed that over the period the amount of solar power installed in the state grew by 192 megawatts to 238 MWs. The commonwealth’s solar industry has grown into a $2 billion revenue generating machine since McAullife was sworn into office in 2014.
“Today’s announcement is a testament to the great work we’re doing to build the new Virginia economy, one that is less reliant on federal spending and focuses on growth in innovative sectors like the solar industry,” said McAuliffe. “It is clear that Virginia is moving in the right direction, but there is still work to do. I will continue to work with our public and private sector stakeholders to implement policies that will continue to bolster not only our solar industry, but the entire clean energy sector in the Commonwealth.”
With more than 3,000 jobs in the solar sector, Virginia was ranked second in the US Southeast, according to The Solar Foundation’s findings in the National Solar Jobs Census 2016. Only North Carolina, with 5,950 jobs in solar, bested it. On the national level Virginia was 20th in terms of jobs in solar power.
However, the 65 percent jump in solar jobs last year shows that it could move up in the national rankings. That year-over-year growth tied it with Utah at ninth among states for expanding solar sector employment, the McAuliffe’s office observed. Both states significantly outpaced the national 25 percent increase in solar jobs.
Virginia performed well in job growth in every sector of the solar industry during 2016, according to McAuliffe. Solar installers continued as the largest employment sector in the solar industry. They saw their ranks swell 45 percent to 1,750 workers. As the solar workforce in Virginia grows, so does its diversity. Women employed in the the solar industry make up almost 38 percent of the solar industry’s employees in Virginia. Likewise, 22 percent of the state’s solar workers are Hispanic or Latino.
“By leveraging key public-private partnerships to grow our energy economy, Virginia now ranks in the top twenty in the nation for solar jobs,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Todd Haymore. “Companies are increasingly demanding more renewable energy options when deciding where to make investments. Given this growing component of economic development, it is essential that consumers and businesses have access to affordable, reliable and diverse energy resources. This is part of the governor’s all-of-the-above energy approach and key to fulfilling the energy policy of the commonwealth.”Tweet