By Mary Kuhlman • Ohio News Connection
COLUMBUS - The sun is shining on Ohio when it comes to jobs in the solar power industry.
According to a new national Solar Jobs Census, more than 3,800 Ohioans were working in the solar sector in 2013, a 31 percent increase from the year before.
Christian Adams, a state associate for Environment Ohio, said the progress is directly related to policies that encourage solar energy development - including Senate Bill 221, which requires utilities to invest in clean energy.
"That's really been a huge boon for the development of renewable energy in Ohio," he said. "Since that law was passed in 2008, we've seen that kind of robust growth, year in and year out. So, it's a continuation of that trend."
Adams said cities can play a huge role in growing the state's solar-energy market. He pointed to Cincinnati, which passed a resolution aiming to install solar on one in five rooftops by 2028 and develop new financing programs for residential rooftop and commercial solar markets.
"Cincinnati's been leading the way across the state for putting installations in its own city buildings," Adams said, "and now, it's really taking that knowledge and helping commercial customers and everyday homeowners invest more in solar energy."
Only a small fraction of energy still comes from the sun, he said, adding that while Ohio has policies that encourage clean-energy growth, even more can be done.
"If you look at states like New Jersey or Massachusetts, these aren't states with a ton more sunshine or rooftops than Ohio has," he said, "yet they're beating us in the national rankings, and that all comes down to the robustness of their policy."
The analysis released by The Solar Foundation found almost 20 percent growth in solar employment nationally since September 2012. That rate is 10 times faster than the overall national employment growth rate of 1.9 percent in the same time period.
The state-by-state analysis is online at thesolarfoundation.org/solarstates.