Solar is Putting Americans to Work
Sunrun Team· 3
Americans are hungry for local, clean, affordable energy. That’s good news for our economy. According to The National Solar Jobs Census, released last week by the Solar Foundation, more than 242,000 Americans currently work in the solar industry. Residential solar companies, like Sunrun, are creating a whopping 56% of those jobs, putting 87,323 Americans to work in communities across the country. I’m proud to say that more than 4,000 of those workers are with Sunrun -- and we are only just getting started.
Those are big numbers. And while policy uncertainty and federal solar tariffs caused dips in total solar employment during the last two years, the trends are overwhelmingly positive. Between 2013 and 2018 solar jobs leapt 70%, creating nearly 100,000 jobs and far outstripping the national growth rate of 9% during the same period. Not only does solar employ people in all 50 states, but 29 of them saw growth this year, including Florida, Illinois and Texas. For the first time, we’re able to count thousands of solar jobs in areas like Puerto Rico. We can also identify that the inclusion of home batteries has contributed to nearly 4,000 jobs.
As an industry, solar is punching above its weight when it comes to job creation. In 2018, solar generated just 2.4% of the total energy used by Americans, yet the solar workforce already outnumbers the coal industry two-to-one and has nearly five times as many workers as the nuclear industry.
Analysts predict that solar will be the second-highest producer of new energy in America in 2019. We’re already seeing solar becoming cost competitive with coal-fired power plants in some areas, with some electric utilities deploying solar as the cheapest option in their energy portfolios. In fact, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that solar installer will be the fastest growing job in America over the next decade. It’s becoming clear that the movement to create a more democratic, decentralized energy system powered by people is also one that is driving more jobs and opportunities for workers.
As Vice President of Talent at Sunrun, this growth is meaningful because I know first hand that solar energy is creating more than jobs -- we’re creating opportunity and meaningful careers for hundreds of thousands of Americans. You don’t need a college degree to become a solar installer, but you can build a career that offers competitive wages with other industries and your job can’t be automated or exported.
At Sunrun, we are committed to ensuring that as our industry grows, so do opportunities and benefits for all communities. While today’s solar workforce is more diverse than many similar industries, we can and must do better.
As we grow, Sunrun is committed to leading the industry in diversity and inclusion. We have dedicated Sunrun staff working to reinforce opportunities for women, people of color, military veterans, and the LGBTQ community. Because of their efforts, in 2018 we achieved 100% pay parity for all Sunrun employees, regardless of gender, who perform similar work in similar locations across the United States. We were named a top company to work for by Forbes, Comparably, Arizona Central, The Denver Post, and Millennial Mogul Magazine.
I’m honored to be working in an industry that not only positively impacts people and the planet, but also contributes to the economic backbone of our country. As America’s leading residential solar, battery storage, and energy services company, I can’t wait to see how Sunrun continues to move the needle.
Chad Herring, Vice President of Talent, Sunrun, 2/19/19