Illinois adds solar jobs despite Washington climate

CHICAGO — Illinois’ solar industry is seeing increased growth despite President Donald Trump’s executive order to reverse rules combating climate change.

The nonprofit Solar Foundation released a report this past week that found the number of solar jobs in the state increased to over 3,700 workers in 2016, a 6.7 increase from the previous year. These numbers rank Illinois as 17th in the country for solar jobs, with employment expected to increase 5 percent this year, the Chicago Tribune reported.

The report was released just before Trump’s order reversing the Clean Power Plan. The plan, signed by President Barack Obama, would have required utilities to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, increasing reliance on renewable energy sources such as solar power.

But thanks to the Illinois Future Energy Jobs Act set to take effect in June, many industry operators are looking to a promising future.

Windfree Solar President Doug Snower said the wind and solar energy company hired three staff members this week and plans to hire two or three more next month.

“The phones are ringing,” Snower said. “We just don’t have enough salespeople to handle all the stuff coming in.”

The state law has provisions bolstering solar, including efforts to boost participation in community solar projects, a program providing solar funding for low-income areas and a job training program.

“That’s really the biggest signal that people think this is a market worth investing,” Solar Foundation director Andrea Luecke said. “When you start putting resources into your workforce, it’s a strong signal to solar companies that this is a place to go.”

–Associated Press

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