Minnesota considers legislation to boost solar jobs

Emerging sources of renewable energy are transforming the way the country thinks about power. While oil and gas remain a crucial element to the United States' overall energy strategy, consumers and local governments are increasingly turning to alternative sources like solar, wind, biofuels and various cleantech innovations. Most recently, legislation proposed in Minnesota looks to create new jobs in the field, which renewable energy recruiters are primed to find talent for.

More solar installations lead to more jobs
In an effort to boost Minnesota's use of solar energy and incentivize cleantech firms to start business operations in the state, lawmakers recently introduced the Solar Energy Jobs Act of 2013 to the state's House Energy Policy Committee. The bill would mandate solar technology generate 10 percent of the state's electricity by 2030.

The 10 percent requirement as stipulated by HF773, sponsored by Rep. Will Morgan, would be in addition to Minnesota's previously stated goal of 25 percent of energy in the state to come from renewable sources by 2025. The proposed legislation would also require utilities to pay solar generators a "value of solar" payment and authorize the state's commerce commissioners to implement solar product incentives to progress toward the 10 percent goal. The legislation also calls for studies on solar and thermal energy be conducted.

"Passing a solar energy standard will not only bolster [solar] businesses, but also attract new companies to invest in one of Minnesota's growing markets," Morgan said. "Our state can't afford to be left behind. We need forward-thinking policies that promote growth in up-and-coming sectors of the economy."

The main economic impact of the legislation would be a much-improved employment situation in Minnesota's solar market. International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers union leader Andrew Snopes, whose organization supports the legislation, testified the bill would create nearly 2,000 jobs within the first year after becoming a law. Snopes also said the bill would spur around $230 million solar technology investments. 

The jobs bill would result in 80 megawatts (MW) of solar installations in the first year, 1,000 MW by 2023 and more than 5,3000 MW by 2030.

The focus on solar jobs in Minnesota reflects a larger national trend of spurring green jobs growth through investment and legislative action. For expanding firms in the cleantech sector, working with renewable energy recruiters can help solve talent acquisition maladies.