PowerMarket

Something you can feel good about: Supporting jobs in the community solar industry

By Ellen Barrett

When you become a part of a community solar project there is a lot to feel good about. You might enjoy receiving savings on your electricity bill every month, supporting the environmental health of your community, or encouraging the development of renewable energy.

 

Our PowerMarket team is proud of all of the benefits our work brings to communities throughout the country. However, the jobs that are created when you subscribe to a community solar project is one benefit that we are particularly proud of. That’s because these jobs support the livelihoods of those in our communities.

 

So what jobs are needed to support a community solar project? Because community solar can be somewhat complex, there are actually quite a few jobs that are needed to get a project running.

 

Policy and Nonprofit Jobs

Currently, there are community solar projects in 40 U.S. states,1 but that wasn’t always the case. There were people, often from nonprofits like the Coalition for Community Solar Access, who pushed to see that community solar policies were realized. Incentives that have driven the growth that we see in the industry today. These positions are just some of the jobs that have not only supported the community solar industry but now have also been supported by it.

 

Solar Developer Jobs

With policies in place, solar development companies are often the ones behind creating community solar projects. They employ a team of people ranging from project managers to finance wizards. Among other things, this team develops a solar farm by obtaining the permits required to build the project, sourcing the capital needed to support its development, as well as hiring the right partners to make sure their projects run successfully. Many solar developers will partner with companies that manage community solar projects, like PowerMarket. PowerMarket employs an array of people for our team from those who are more tech-savvy to those who help provide our customers with the best service in the industry. Together, our teams not only work to acquire subscribers for community solar projects but also use our easy-to-use marketplace and platform to sign subscribers up, manage their community solar projects, and bill them monthly.

 

Investment Jobs

Because community solar is one of the newest forms of renewable energy there are also people who have to figure out how to finance it. Investing in a community solar project often requires banks and financial institutions to retain experts who understand the nuances of project finance, tax equity partnership flips, and other legal structures to optimize the benefits of these renewable energy investments.

 

Construction and Utility Jobs

Once a community solar project has been financed, it can then be constructed. This phase relies heavily on construction jobs. But not just any construction jobs - ones that require an understanding of how to construct solar arrays and how to connect them to the utility grid. Because this is a specific skill set, some development companies, like Solar Energy Systems, or non-profits, like SolarOne, will actually provide solar installation training opportunities to those in a project’s surrounding communities. This means that some subscribers may not only find a community solar project to become a part of but also may find a new job as well. Once a community solar project is connected to the utility grid, many utility companies also require a team that knows community solar. These teams stay up-to-date with the changing policies around community solar and help manage the projects that are injecting clean energy into the utility grid.

 

Industry Growth

The community solar industry and the jobs it supports is only growing. We’ve seen this growth firsthand at PowerMarket where our team has more than doubled in less than 3 years. What’s more, is we have even created jobs in states like Maine where community solar didn’t exist a year ago. We hope that these jobs will support the development of community solar in states where it’s in its infancy because we know that with its development even more jobs will be soon to follow.

 

So the next time you are thinking about all of the benefits your community solar project provides you, can you also think about all of the benefits it provides others in your community - like jobs in an industry that has a bright future. Now that’s something you can feel good about. 

 

 

To learn more: 

1. "Community Solar." SEIA: Solar Energy Industries Association, https://www.seia.org/initiatives/community-solar