SALEM - Today, environmental groups, small businesses, and clean energy advocates held an all-day event in the Oregon State Capitol during the State Legislature’s January Legislative Days to highlight the advances in solar technology and to celebrate the exciting future of solar power in Oregon. The 2015 Legislative Session begins on February 2nd, and several bills related to solar power have already been filed.
“The solar industry is a job-intensive industry, employing manufacturers, distributors, engineers, electricians, and other professionals. The solar industry brings livable-wage, local jobs to the state,” said Paul Israel, president of Oregon Solar Energy Industries Association. According to a 2013 Solar Foundation Poll, Oregon’s solar industry already employs over 2,700 Oregonians. Oregon is home to America’s largest solar panel manufacturer, SolarWorld, in Hillsboro. Because the panels are made in Oregon and installed by Oregonians, more than 80% of the money invested in solar systems stays in state.
Environment Oregon staff highlighting advances in solar technology over the years.
Not only are these stable, safe jobs, but they are livable wage-jobs: MSN Money recently identified the solar power industry as having the fastest-growing revenues of any American industry, with expectations that the industry will continue to grow at a rapid pace in the coming years.
Both the efficiency and cost of solar panels have improved dramatically over the last decade. Thanks in large part to these advances, homeowners, businesses, and legislators alike are urging for an increased focus on repowering the state with clean, renewable energy. A Winston Group poll from November 2014 found that 82% of Oregonians have a favorable view of renewable energy.
Rikki Seguin, lead advocate with Environment Oregon, added, “Despite our enormous solar potential, Oregon still gets less than 1% of its energy from the sun. This year, our legislators have an exciting opportunity to repower our state with clean energy that doesn’t pollute our environment and will never run out.”
Several pieces of legislation related to solar power are being drafted for the upcoming legislative session. These bills vary from renewing tax credits for homeowners to installing rooftop solar systems to incentivizing large scale solar arrays in the sunniest parts of the state.
Seguin continued, “Oregon is lagging behind states like Massachusetts and New Jersey. 2015 is the year to make Oregon a solar leader, for our economy, our health, and our environment.”