Minnesota solar energy employment up almost 50 percent in 2017

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Minnesota solar energy employment up almost 50 percent in 2017

February 8, 2018

Minnesota bucked the national trend in solar energy employment in 2017, posting the second highest job growth by state.

Nationwide, U.S. solar energy industry employment fell by 4 percent or 9,800 jobs, according to a report released Wednesday by The Solar Foundation. It was the first decline since The Solar Foundation began tracking jobs in 2010.

Total U.S. solar employment was 250,271 last year, with the majority of those jobs in installation.

In Minnesota last year, solar employment grew 48 percent, hitting 4,256 jobs, according to The Solar Foundation.  Only Delaware had a larger growth rate: 51 percent. “Minnesota was one of our brightest states in 2017,” said Avery Palmer, a spokesman for The Solar Foundation.

Minnesota’s job jump is rooted in the state-mandated Community Solar Garden program, which finally bloomed last year after many delays. The state had 58 community solar gardens up and running in December, compared to only ten a year earlier.

Xcel Energy administers the solar garden program, which was created in 2013. It’s aimed at residents, businesses and governments that want solar energy without setting up their own rooftop arrays. Instead, they subscribe to larger arrays operated by independent companies that connect to Xcel’s grid.

SOURCE:  Star Tribune

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