Bernadette Del Chiaro, Executive Director, California Solar & Storage Association
The Solar Foundation’s 2018 Jobs Census found that California lost 9,500 solar jobs in 2018, the second year in a row of job loss for the state’s most promising clean energy market. Link to report here.
The job losses track the decline in California's annual solar installations that went from 1.3 megawatts (MW) in 2016 to approximately 1.2 MW in both 2017 and 2018 for distributed solar energy installations (source: DG Stats database based on utility interconnection data). The state also experienced a sharp decline in demand for utility scale solar projects during this time.
California’s solar market decline is due almost entirely to policy changes at the state level including modifications in investor-owned and publicly-owned utility net energy metering policies as well as changes to rate structures that have been designed to be less solar friendly. In addition, persistent utility interconnection barriers and permitting red tape continue to drag the California solar market, causing delays and added costs and slowing down the consumer adoption of solar energy and energy storage.
As the state deepens its commitment to clean energy on paper, establishing a 100% clean energy goal by 2045 in 2018, it has simultaneously weakened foundational policies that support local clean energy markets. If California hopes to lead the nation and the world in realizing a clean energy future it must maintain strong policies that allow local renewable energy technologies to compete and thrive.
Looking ahead, countervailing winds driving future growth are on the horizon including the state’s new solar homes mandate as well as incentives for energy storage. Neither of these initiates, however, will result in added jobs if the underlying solar market continues to be undermined by state and local policies. Furthermore, marked growth from these initiatives is not expected until mid-2020.
Despite the decline in the solar market and resulting job loss over the past two years, California’s solar industry still employs more people than the state’s traditional fossil fuel-oriented utilities combined. Solar energy is a job-intensive technology creating more jobs per unit of energy generated than conventional resources. These jobs are community-based and cannot be outsourced. Building solar is good for our environment and good for our local economies as well.
For more information, contact Bernadette Del Chiaro at 916-765-3224 or firstname.lastname@example.org.