Pa. Losing Solar-Related Jobs

Monday, 31 Oct 2011 04:29 AM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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Pennsylvania’s solar-related jobs may in jeopardy without continued state and federal subsidies, solar supporters claim, saying several programs that were keeping the industry alive have either ended or are nearly over.
The state has the fourth-highest amount of solar jobs in the United States, said the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, but they started declining over the past year.
An Energy Department loan guarantee program ended last month, after awarding up to $13.6 billion for 17 large solar projects. Meanwhile, a Treasury Department program allowing cash grants in lieu of tax credits will end in December, and in Pennsylvania, the state’s Sunshine program, which funds solar equipment installation, is broke.
The Keystone State had 4,703 solar jobs at 750 locations between August 2010 and August 2011, says a report from the Solar Foundation, a lobbying organization. However, last year, Pennsylvania had 6,700 solar-related jobs.
However, the Solar Foundation’s figures don’t include government or nonprofit entities, nor do they include some connected jobs, including accountants, attorneys, and researchers.
In addition to the federal and state cutbacks, foreign competition and a surplus of silicon wafers and cells is hitting the industry. For example, one Pennsylvania solar business, Solar Power Industries Inc., lost 175 workers because of the foreign influence.

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