Denver, CO — Colorado’s solar industry has contributed $1.42 billion to the state’s economy since 2007, according to the most comprehensive study yet on the statewide impact of solar energy development. The solar photovoltaic (PV) industry has created approximately 10.700 full-time equivalent jobs with employee earnings of more than $534 million since widespread solar development began in 2007, the study found. The impacts are based on the installation of nearly 250 MW of cumulative installed solar PV capacity by the first quarter of 2013.
Results are detailed in “An Assessment of the Economic, Revenue, and Societal Impacts of Colorado’s Solar Industry” prepared by The Solar Foundation, a national non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C.The study was commissioned by the Solar Friendly Communities program, a partnership led by the Colorado Solar Energy Industries Association (COSEIA) that works with local governments to make it faster, easier and more affordable for citizens to go solar.
“Solar energy is ready to play a major role in Colorado’s future,” said Rebecca Cantwell, director of the Solar Friendly Communities program. “It creates jobs, strengthens local economies, cuts air pollution and conserves our precious water supplies. This report for the first time puts some hard numbers on a lot of those benefits.”
The report estimates state and local tax revenues resulting from solar PV development since 2007 at between $34.1 million and $59.7 million. The estimates include property taxes, sales taxes and income taxes.
Beyond the straight economic impacts, the study measured environmental benefits from the roughly 1.33 million MWh of electricity generated by solar energy systems from the beginning of 2007 through the first quarter of 2013.
Solar energy has produced $24.3 million worth of benefits in that period through avoided emissions of greenhouse gases and other pollutants.
In addition, more than 300 million gallons of water was saved in this period — water that would have otherwise been used in generating electricity from fossil sources.
The Solar Foundation also projected what the impact of solar energy will be when Colorado reaches COSEIA’s stated goal of installing a total of 3 GW by 2030, the equivalent of a Million Solar Roofs. The study finds that reaching the goal will result in creating almost 32,500 full time equivalent jobs and paying out $1.9 billion in employee earnings. The economic activity is expected to produce more than $3.85 billion in economic output.
Leaders in Colorado’s solar industry pointed out that the study’s conclusions show solar has tremendous potential.
”As a homegrown Colorado solar company, we are excited about the possibility of Colorado policymakers and regulators taking a fresh look at the success of the solar industry in our state,” said Jason Wiener of Namaste Solar, who serves on the COSEIA board of directors. “We have only scratched the surface, as solar PV is still such a small percentage of the overall electricity generation portfolio and we are energized by the million solar roofs goal. As the real benefits of solar PV become quantified, we hope policymakers, regulators and the utilities will take notice. We need all stakeholders to collaborate to remove barriers to the responsible deployment of solar and to develop appropriate market signals to protect and increase investment in this clean energy technology.”
“The hard statistics in this report illustrate the unquestionable contribution solar development makes to state economic development,” said Piper Foster, COSEIA board president. “COSEIA is proud to publicize facts about the jobs engine that is solar energy.”