Study: A little government help builds solar jobs

Extend a grant program, season with tax credits and 200,000 jobs will be created in solar and supporting industries.

At least that's the conclusion of a new study produced by the Solar Energy Industries Association, or SEIA, and by Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash. The 48-page report, "U.S. Solar Policy Impact Analysis," says getting those jobs -- the biggest recipient would be California with 60,000 -- depends upon the extention of the stimulus-funded U.S. Department of Treasury Grant Program by two years and including solar manufacturing in the industry's existing tax credit. Another benefit, the study says, is "10 gigawatts of new solar installations by 2016 -- enough to power 2 million homes."

Other big job getters would be Michigan at 24,000; Ohio, Oregon and Texas with 13,000 or more each; Arizona, Colorado, and Florida with 10,000 each; Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Washington with about 5,000 each; Nevada, New Jersey, and Tennessee with about 3,000 or more each); and Connecticut and Hawaii with about 1,500 each.

"Tens of thousands of jobs hinge on continuing this successful program," Cantwell said in a statement.

Rhone Resch, president and CEO of SEIA, said the jobs could help reduce high unemployment in general and especially in the construction industry, which he said remains near 22 percent nationally. "Last year, the solar industry was one of the bright spots in our economy with the creation of 17,000 new jobs," he said in a statement.

The study says new solar installations include more than 4,400 megawatts for California through 2016 and more than 1,400 megawatts for Arizona.

"Hopefully, legislators will stick to their goal of encouraging solar power, stimilating the economy and creating jobs," wrote Zachary Shahan, reporter for "For your part, give your representatives in Congress a call and encourage them to keep supporting solar jobs and the economy."

The San Joaquin Valley Clean Energy Organization is a nonprofit dedicated to improving our region's quality of life by increasing its production and use of clean and alternative energy. The SJVCEO works with cities and counties and public and private organizations to demonstrate the benefits of energy efficiency and renewable energy throughout the eight-county region of the San Joaquin Valley.