A leading concern in the conversations around expanding clean energy is employment. What will happen to fossil fuel industry workers? We understand and empathize with this concern and that’s exactly why our bill will address multiple facets of expanding the clean energy industry.
Expanding the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) to 50% by the year 2030 will mean expanding the clean energy industry. With expansion of industry comes expansion of jobs, and with expansion of jobs comes a need for more workers. It takes a certain knowledge of skills to work in this industry, but we’ve got that covered: our bill proposes funding for clean energy job training programs in the state of Maryland. These programs will allow workers to gain the skills they need to work in the industry of the future, and let’s face it: the future of electricity isn’t in fossil fuels.
The solar industry is booming, and this is only the beginning. According to an article in the Baltimore Sun, “Maryland added 1,160 solar jobs in 2016, a 27 percent jump from the previous year[.]” This would bring the industry’s employment in our state “to more than 5,400, according to an annual solar jobs census by the Solar Foundation” (Gantz, Sarah. “Solar Jobs Soar…” The Baltimore Sun, February 2017). So while only a handful of your neighbors currently have solar panel roofs, it is likely that by the year 2030 the majority of Marylanders will be powered by the sun.
The statistics to back this up are pretty clear. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), there are currently 209,000 Americans working in the solar industry. They predict that by 2021, that number will increase to about 360,000 workers. The increase in worker numbers is dependant on the increase in solar use in the US–and the SEIA posits that we’ll buy more solar because it’s continuing to get cheaper. While Governor Larry Hogan cited unfounded cost concerns as his motive for vetoing an RPS of 25% by 2020 (overridden by the General Assembly), this ratepayer increase won’t be a problem for our bill. By the year 2030 when the 50% standard is fully realized, the use of solar electricity will be cheaper than fossil fuel-powered electricity (Carpenter, Claudia & Habboush, Mahmoud. Bloomberg Technology).
There comes a certain fear when the status quo changes. We are attempting to grow an environmentally safe industry against one that is dirty and full of old corporate political power that keeps powering a majority of our economy. As we grow this cleaner industry and make major changes in where our energy comes from, we want everyone to be along for the ride. Jobs are already opening up and will continue to do so and when they do, we will have workers prepared to take them. We propose an inclusive clean energy bill and we’re collaborating to solve two parts of the problem. Thus, solar will finally meet jobs.