Colorado ranks ninth in solar jobs census

Colorado ranks ninth among the 50 states in the latest census tracking the number of people employed in manufacturing and installing solar energy systems.

While more than 3,600 people in the state worked in the sector in 2013, job growth has leveled off.

“The sky’s the limit on solar power. But to get solar growing in Colorado again, our state leaders need to make a firm commitment to this form of clean energy. To take it to the next level, we need to rally around a bigger vision of solar while defending and improving the programs that work today,” said Margaret McCall, an energy associate with Environment Colorado, an environmental advocacy group based in Denver.

The Solar Foundation, a solar energy research and education organization, has tracked employment in solar energy development in the United States for four years.

According to the results of its national solar jobs census for 2013, nearly 143,000 people worked in the industry. That number represents an increase in the solar industry labor force of nearly 24,000, or almost

20 percent, over the previous year. Compared to overall job growth in the U.S., solar payrolls increased 10 times faster.

California remained far and away the leading state for solar payrolls with more than 47,000 workers. Arizona ranked second with 8,558 workers, followed by New Jersey with 6,500, Massachusetts with 6,400 and New York with 5,000.

With no change in solar payrolls over the past year, Colorado slipped three spots to ninth in the 2013 ranking. Installations accounted for the largest proportion of the solar energy workforce in the state.

Colorado ranked seventh for the capacity of installed solar power and 10th for solar jobs per capita for 2013.

Environment Colorado has joined with the Colorado Solar Energy Industries Association and other organizations in an initiative to increase solar energy capacity in Colorado to 3 gigawatts by 2030 — roughly the equivalent of installing solar systems on 1 million roofs.

COSEIA estimated that realizing that goal would create almost 32,500 full-time jobs and produce $3.85 billion in economic output.