Greenskies Notes Dramatic Growth of Solar Jobs

Press Release | Middletown, CT
May 31, 2017

As Connecticut state legislators debate extending a program that has helped make the state’s solar industry more robust, an executive at Greenskies Renewable Energy has called attention to a report that indicates solar jobs across the nation are growing at a rate 17 times faster than the U.S. economy.

More than 260,000 Americans now work in the solar industry, an increase of 24 percent from last year, according to an International Renewable Energy Agency report, said James Desantos, Greenskies’ vice president of business development and government relations.

A bit closer to home, Desantos noted there were 2,174 workers working at 159 solar companies (including developers, installers, and equipment manufacturers) in Connecticut in 2016, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). The number of solar jobs in the state increased by 11.4 percent from 1,951 in 2015, he said.

By comparison, Connecticut as a whole lost about 200 jobs in 2016, according to statistics released by the state Department of Labor in March.

While solar jobs have soared, according to the SEIA, the price of solar energy produced in Connecticut has declined by 64 percent over the past five years, Desantos noted.

With 326.8 megawatts of solar energy installed, Connecticut ranks 17th in the nation and second in New England.

“The solar industry is healthy and shows no signs of slowing down, both nationally and in Connecticut” Desantos said. “It’s one of the few sectors of our economy that is steadily increasing the number of high-paying jobs it produces.”

State legislators are currently debating legislation that would extend Connecticut’s ZREC (Zero Emission Renewable Energy Credits) program for an additional year in order to allow for a suitable successor program to be established and implemented.

“The state’s (ZREC) program has been the prime driver of the commercial solar market in Connecticut, providing a 15-year revenue stream for owners of solar energy systems,” Greenskies President Will Herchel said in a statement submitted to the legislature’s Energy and Technology Committee earlier this year.

“As Connecticut finds itself in the midst of a dire budget situation, protecting the state’s renewable energy sector is necessary in order to stabilize revenue and provide much needed support to cash-strapped municipalities,” Desantos said. “Connecticut has been a leader in fostering the growth of this sector, and now more than ever, we must do what we can to keep the momentum going.”

Based in Middletown, Greenskies is a nine-year-old company that designs, builds and maintains solar photovoltaic systems for commercial and industrial clients, municipalities and government agencies, educational institutions and utilities throughout the United States.