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Utah and Solar Power: lots of sun, lots of jobs, not many incentives

Posted at 7:41 PM, Feb 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-19 21:41:47-05

If you want a job in solar power production, installation or sales and you live in Utah, you’re in luck.

If you want to install solar panels on your home or business and you live in Utah, you’re not.

That’s the bottom line from two annual benchmark reports generated by solar industry data crunchers.

The Solar Foundation has tracked jobs in it’s annual National Solar Jobs Census, NSJC, since 2010.

In the just-issued report for 2019, Utah added more solar industry jobs than all but two states (Florida and Georgia).

Nationally, the solar industry employs nearly 250 thousand people, according to the NSJC, almost twice the number of Americans employed in the coal industry.

2019 actually marked an upward correction after a two-year decline from a peak of 260 thousand in 2016 to 244 thousand by 2018. The slump largely credited on a shift in emphasis to fossil fuels by the Trump administration compounded by tariffs placed on panels from China.

During the same time period, Utah’s ranking by the website has dropped according to its 11-point measurement of solar-friendly policies and incentives.

The site ranks Utah as 35th among the 50 states and the District of Columbia, despite its rank as the state with the 7th most direct sunlight.

According to the rankings, a Utah solar customer should expect their investment in panels to pay off in 13 years, compared with 6 years in the state friendliest to solar power, Massachusetts.