Vote Solar Initiative touts job growth potential in Florida

TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA - The Vote Solar Initiative, a grassroots organization focused advancing solar energy in the U.S., released analysis indicating that a new renewable energy goal in Florida would create significant local employment opportunities.

State regulators at the Public Service Commission have proposed a new renewable portfolio standard (RPS) that requires 20 percent of Florida's electricity to come from renewable sources by 2020, with one quarter of that goal to be met with distributed solar and wind energy. Vote Solar estimates that a well-designed RPS program of that size could drive development of more than 3,800 megawatts (MW) of solar and add approximately 85,500 new jobs in Florida.

Vote Solar publicized the findings through a series of tongue-in-cheek classified ads. The playful job listings advertised 85,500 employment opportunities in the state's new energy economy and asked job candidates to apply for strong solar policies at the Florida legislature.

The series ran in prominent daily newspapers, including: The St. Petersburg Times, The Florida Times-Union, The Tallahassee Democrat, The Palm Beach Post, and The Ocala Star Banner.

"These job listings may be fictional, but the opportunity they represent is very real. Development of a local solar infrastructure creates local employment opportunities and an in-state energy economy; it's as simple as that," said Vote Solar deputy director Gwen Rose. "Florida has already made tremendous progress on critical interconnection and net metering policies that support solar market growth. A strong RPS is the final key to unlocking solar's economic potential in the Sunshine State."

Solar generates more jobs per megawatt (MW) than any other energy technology. Solar employment opportunities cover nearly every education level and salary requirement. The diverse spectrum of jobs created includes electrical work, structural engineering, construction, sales, marketing, finance and legal services. Florida's state legislature is expected to make a decision on the state's new RPS policies by May 2009.

"AGT has been putting renewable energy to work in Florida and beyond since 2007. Today we have more than 75 employees designing, selling, and installing solar energy systems on rooftops from Tallahassee to Boca Raton," said Yann Brandt of AGT. "There is no question that residents and businesses in the Sunshine State want to go solar. A strong state renewable energy target would help us unlock the full economic potential of the sun."

Carrie Cullen Hitt, president of the Solar Alliance noted, "Florida also has a real opportunity to attract out-of-state investment and spur significant job development. With solid policies, the need for a skilled workforce at all points in the value chain: manufacturing, distribution, and installation, will increase exponentially. By building strong demand for solar products, Florida would be well-positioned to drive growth across the entire solar energy supply chain."


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