A national report has revealed some good news on the state of the solar industry in Indiana. The national Solar Jobs Census released this week found 960 new Hoosier jobs were created in manufacturing, installation and development of solar projects in 2013, an increase of more than 170 percent.
Indiana Distributed Energy Alliance President Laura Ann Arnold touted the tremendous opportunity for even more growth, given the state’s strong manufacturing base.
“Solar PV has just gone through an explosion, and when there’s more domestic manufacturing, the price can drop,” she said. “We still have some work to do on installation costs, and we need to work in terms of licensing, permitting and so on.”
While there was a big boost in numbers, Indiana’s 1,500 solar jobs still lag behind those in neighboring states. Overall, Indiana is ranked 25th in solar employment nationwide.
The voluntary feed-in tariff offered by Indianapolis Power and Light and Northern Indiana Public Service Co. are among the programs helping to increase the number of solar jobs, she added.
“We hope that all of the electric utilities in the state of Indiana will look at these programs to provide incentives for their customers to produce solar PV,” she said.
The price of solar has decreased substantially, she noted, suggesting that Hoosiers should look at solar heating as an affordable option.
“With the current shortage and price increases on propane for people in rural areas, people who do not have access to natural gas should really be looking at solar thermal,” she said. “It can be very cost competitive, with a very short return on investment.”
The analysis released by the Solar Foundation found almost 20 percent growth in solar employment nationally since September 2012. That is 10 times faster than the overall national employment growth rate of 1.9 percent in the same time period.