While the recently released National Solar Jobs Census indicates Arizona still holds second place in the country for solar jobs, it shows a frightening decrease in the total number of industry jobs and a decline in the number of solar businesses operating in the state. In the last year alone, Arizona has shed 1,242 solar jobs, down from 10,000 jobs just one year ago. That’s a 12.5% decrease in Arizona solar jobs in an industry that grew at a 20% clip nationwide.
“What these numbers reflect are losses from all solar sectors and they should be troubling to all Arizonans. From what our members are reporting, these numbers are the tip of the iceberg of the number of solar jobs leaving the state,” said Mark Holohan, president of the board of the Arizona Solar Energy Industries Association (AriSEIA), a trade group of solar electric and solar thermal businesses and supporters. “Our industry spent all of 2013 under attack and those attacks do not seem to be slowing down as we begin the new-year. The uncertainty caused by continued attacks will of course rob the State of more jobs unless policy makers step up and calm the waters.”
Comparing this year’s census with those of prior years, there is a clear reversal of a growth trend that began over four years ago. Between the 2010 and 2011 solar census reports, Arizona’s solar jobs more than doubled from 2,105 to 4,786. Between the 2011 and 2012 census, that number doubled again to nearly 10,000 jobs.
“Solar energy is one of Arizona’s greatest assets and one of its most significant competitive advantages,” said Holohan, noting that solar was the only energy sector that has added significant numbers of new jobs and businesses to the Arizona economy. Voicing the organization’s concern about the impact of increased taxes for solar customers and other policy barriers, Holohan says, “2014 could be much worse than 2013 particularly if the legislature permits solar property tax increases that were not contemplated under existing laws. We are on the edge