Community Impact: How California’s Best Solar Companies are Driving Economic Growth and Job Creation

Solar offers several benefits. Obvious ones include money savings and improved environmental health. It also promotes job growth providing opportunities for installers, manufacturers, and other industry positions.

The solar industry is growing in leaps and bounds. It is especially healthy in states with sunny climates like California. This article will examine how solar companies in California benefit from its solar growth.

Solar Jobs Census

As of this article's publication date, the 2024 census for solar jobs in California has not yet been released. However, here are some interesting facts based on the 2022 census.

  • California is responsible for 78,116 of the 263,883 workers in the U.S. solar industry

  • 2404 solar jobs were added in 2022 yielding 3.2% growth

  • California is the highest-ranking state for solar jobs with three solar jobs per capita

  • The projected growth for solar in 2023 was 10.3%

Which Jobs Are Hot for Solar in California?

The census also reveals which jobs solar companies in California are hiring for. It breaks down the positions that are in demand.

  • Installation and project management: 49,526

  • Manufacturing: 9801

  • Wholesale trade & distribution: 10,144

  • Operations & Maintenance: 4135

  • All Others: 4501

What is the State of California Solar?
  • Cumulative Installed Solar Capacity 2022 (MWdc): 38,757

  • State Ranking for Solar Capacity: 1

  • Equivalent Number of Homes Powered by Solar: 11,052,679

  • Number of Solar Companies: 2380

Other Clean Energy Jobs in California

  • Clean Storage: 17,580

  • Wind Energy Jobs: 7516

  • Traditional Hydropower Jobs: 10,406

  • Low Impact Hydropower Jobs: 1410

  • Geothermal Jobs: 1667

  • Micro Grid Jobs: 2041

  • Smart Grid Jobs: 2352

  • Energy Efficiency Jobs: 294,396

Incentives Drive Solar Adoption

California has risen to the top of the solar industry in the United States thanks to the many incentives available. Like all other states, Californians are eligible for the federal solar tax credit. Solar homeowners will receive a tax credit equalling 30% of their installation costs.

If you are interested in the solar tax credit, now is the time to act. It will be reduced to 26% in 2033 and go down to 22% in 2034 before being eliminated in 2035. 

They are also eligible for:

Solar Regeneration Incentive Program (SGIP): The SGIP offers rebates for customers who install solar batteries with their solar panels. The rebate amount varies depending on the utility company and the battery’s storage capacity.

Property Tax Exclusion: California excludes solar panels when assessing your property. Your property taxes will not increase with solar panel installation. The exclusion will expire on Jan. 1, 2025.

Property Assessed Clean Energy Programs (PACE): PACE provides solar panel financing and allows you to pay back the loan with your property taxes. The 10-to-30-year contracts give you plenty of time to pay off your panels.

Local Solar Incentives

Local solar incentives are available to residents in certain California communities. They include:

·  Alameda Municipal Power Income Qualified Solar Rebate Program: Alameda, CA customers with a household income of $106,000 or less and houses built before 2020 are eligible for a $500 rebate for solar installation.

·  Lancaster Energy Power Choice Program: Residents in Lancaster can get a free Tesla solar panel and Powerwall installation with no upfront costs. Homeowners must pay for the system’s energy and a monthly battery payment.

·  LADWP Solar Rooftop Program: The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power offers a solar panel leasing program. The company will rent the resident’s roof space for $240 to $600 annually. Homeowners won’t be able to use the panels, but they will contribute to L.A.’s solar expansion and earn some extra cash.

·  San Diego Building Permits: San Diego waives the cost of permits for residents who go solar.

·  Silicon Valley Power Income-Qualified Solar Grant Program: Silicon Valley Power customers may get a grant for solar power installation. However, the program has several regulations. Speak to the company directly to learn more.

·  So Cal ENERGY STAR Solar Thermal Water Heating Systems: SoCal Gas customers can get a rebate of $2500 to $4500 for installing a solar thermal system.

·  Net Metering: California also offers net metering which allows residents to earn credits on their electric bills by selling back excess power to their solar providers.

California Makes Solar More Accessible to Low-Income Families

California has also made solar more accessible to low-income families to address inequality issues. California Solar America has partnered with the California Infrastructure Economic Development Bank awarding the financial institution $249.8 million to make solar more accessible for low-income families.

The Low Income Weatherization Program (LIWP)  provides solar panels for low-income households and energy-efficient upgrades at no cost. In addition to producing cleaner energy, it lowers energy bills and living expenses. It protects seniors and children who are impacted by heat.

Farmhouse Worker Energy Efficiency and Solar PV also make solar more accessible for low-income households. It is part of the Low Income Weatherization Program. It helps farmworkers, who pay a large share of their income on home energy, to gain access to more efficient systems and save money.

The Multi-Family Energy Efficient Renewables Program is also a part of the LIWP. Participants are provided with energy-efficient solutions that can lower energy bills by up to 40%. The program reduces property owner operating costs to preserve affordable housing.

These efforts are combined with initiatives from the Biden-Harris administration to make solar more accessible to low-income families countrywide.

All efforts to make solar more affordable and accessible help create industry jobs. It also allows low-income families to lower their energy bills and reduce their financial burden.

Solar Training Opportunities in California

California also fuels the solar industry with various training programs that help workers get the training they need to get started.

GRID Alternatives is a Fresno-based non-profit that offers hands-on training for solar installation and connects trainees with employers. The trainees and volunteers that work with the nonprofit learn by installing solar for low-income houses further boosting the economic impact.

The Biden-Harris administration has also seen a need for solar workers to keep up with the thriving solar industry. They have worked with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Solar Energy Technologies Office (SEO) to provide online and in-person training and education programs for solar workers including internships, apprenticeships, and competitions.

The program is available in California and throughout the country.

SOMAH is another California company on a mission to help workers find solar jobs. Workers with solar job training can engage in paid hands-on training. The organization also helps workers find training programs and provides other resources so they can find employment in the solar industry.

Gavin Newsom’s Clean Energy Transition Plan

California governor Gavin Newsom introduced a Clean Energy Transition Plan in May of 2023 which set the course for California’s solar future. He sees a future where the electric grid is powered by 100% carbon-free electricity that is accessible to all Californians. Transportation will be zero-emission, and companies will run on clean fuel.

To put the plan into effect, Newsom is hoping to erect a new electric grid that is less vulnerable to disasters. It will be more efficient to keep up with demand. The governor also aims to build 148,000 MW of clean energy resources by 2045.

His economic and clean energy goals include:

  • Cutting air pollution by 71%

  • Slashing greenhouse gas emissions by 85%

  • Dropping gas consumption by 94%

  • Creating 4 million new jobs

  • Saving Californians $200 billion on pollution-related medical expenses

Unprecedented Growth in the EV Market

Newsom also sees more opportunities in the EV market. His predictions of EV market growth have come to fruition with Californians hitting record highs for EV car purchases. Californians purchased 102,507 EVs in the first quarter of 2024 making for the highest number of EV sales in any quarter, according to the California Energy Commission.

The state also surpassed zero-emissions vehicle sales in the last week hitting its EV goals two years ahead of schedule. It also beat its goal of installing 10,000 fast EV chargers over a year ahead of schedule.

A statement from Newsom’s office stated that EVs are now a top California import leading to advances in manufacturing and job creation. The 60 EV manufacturers in California further contribute to the industry’s success.

Newsom is helping to fuel EV adoption by making it easier to charge EVs. The California Energy Commission approved $1.9 billion to build 40,000 new EV chargers statewide and other ZEV infrastructure across California. The investments are part of Newsom’s $10 billion ZEV budget.

It makes sense that California is doing all it can to fight climate change and pollution. The state faces high pollution due to an active highway system, heat waves, fires, storm surges, and water supply issues. As a result, it is taking radical action.

Following the  Clean Air Act, starting in 2035, all new cars sold in California will be EVs. The act also sets stringent standards for other motor vehicle emissions.

Last year, California’s strict laws were challenged by oil and gas companies and 17 Republican states that wanted to deny the state’s authority to set car standards that differed from federal law. The challenge was rejected by the U.S. Court of Appeals and California continues to set its environmental standards.

How You Can Support Solar Companies in California

Thanks to the solar industry, employment rates are improving in California. You can support the trend by going solar. Solar America makes it easier than ever.

Visit our site and input your contact information. Our database will return information for various solar companies in California. Choose the one best suited to your needs. Our competitive system means you are likely to get the lowest rates.

Visit us online today and take the first step to supporting your local economy.

"I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. I hope we don’t have to wait till oil and coal run out before we tackle that." - Thomas Edison

"I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. I hope we don’t have to wait till oil and coal run out before we tackle that." - Thomas Edison