Solar Reaches Major Employer Status in Austin, But for How Long?
A survey done by Solar Austin at the beginning of 2012 shows there are at least 615 full-time solar energy jobs in Austin. These jobs include manufacturing, R&D, solar installation, financial and engineering consultants. Adding standard jobs multipliers the total direct and indirect employment supported by the Austin solar industry is 1,180 to 2,190 jobs.
The job figures in Solar Austin’s survey did not include the 240 local job years of employment created by the 30-Megawatt solar park at Webberville east of Austin. The group says the job potential for rooftop solar is even greater.
In 2004, Austin Energy began a rebate program to promote rooftop solar panel installations. It was the first program of its kind in Texas. Austin has since founded and funded institutions that develop new clean energy technology and businesses resulting in clean-tech start-ups, spin-offs, and expansions with many of the jobs at family-wage scale – solar electric system installers making $36,000 a year, solar manufacturing jobs averaging $50,000 a year, and solar engineering paying $75,000 and more annually.
In spite of the potential for job growth, the group pointed to Austin’s south where San Antonio’s public utility CPS, has begun funding solar rebate programs that have overtaken Austin’s and challenged the city to continue to capitalize on their previous commitment, taking it to the next level to make Austin a renewable energy industry cluster in the same way it has electronic manufacturing and software clusters.
“We want thousands of jobs in renewable energy, not hundreds!,” says Public Citizen’s Texas director, Tom “Smitty” Smith.
Take a look at the 4 page flyer on the survey put out by Solar Austin – Jobs Survey 4-Pager.