Solar energy is generating thousands of jobs in Florida and could create far more, a new report found.
More than 4,000 people work in solar energy jobs in the Sunshine State, up about 60 percent from 2012. That ranks Florida No. 7 nationwide for solar jobs, up from No. 12, according to The Solar Foundation, a nonprofit research group.
The job potential is even bigger, if the state were to prioritize renewable energy and offer greater incentives for businesses and homes to adopt solar energy, industry leaders said.
Solar energy is taking off, partly because the price of solar panels has dropped about 60 percent since 2011. The state’s biggest utility, Florida Power Light Co., also has been offering rebates.
That’s helped businesses like Advance Solar Spa Inc., with offices in Fort Myers and Fort Lauderdale. It added six installers last year for solar water heaters, pool heaters and panels, boosting its workforce to nearly 50 people, said Jacob Fields, an owner in the family business.
Among the company’s 2013 projects: installing a solar panel-covered carport for software giant Citrix of Fort Lauderdale, where employees can charge their electric cars for free, Fields said.
Nationwide, nearly 143,000 people had solar jobs in 2013, up 20 percent from a year earlier. That includes jobs in manufacturing, installation, sales and more, the Foundation said.
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