[Spoiler Alert] Yes, Yes, and Almost Certainly Not.
American clean energy advocates are celebrating the revelation that solar energy made up half of new generating capacity for the first quarter of this year. Tennessee is a recognized leader in our region, and we have been particularly active in advancing new solar for years. Already in 2013, TVA has put 7.5 MW of new solar up. Of course, they also capped the program at a ridiculously low level, meaning that solar installers will have to wait until 2014 to be a part of the program again (DOH!). In the meantime, wind advocates will have no problem highlighting the potential for thousands of homegrown jobs in wind energy in Tennessee.
But let’s just look at how we in Tennessee are doing compared to some of our neighbors when it comes to solar. Alabama, WE’RE CALLING YOU OUT!
Between 1990 and 2010, Tennessee created nearly 10 times more solar jobs than Alabama. Tennessee has 142 solar companies compared to Alabama’s 22. Tennessee has 3856 solar homes compared to less than 100 solar homes in Alabama. Solar jobs per capita nationally: Tennessee is ranked 13th, while Alabama ranks 50th.
Alabama native Pat Byington has lamented Alabama’s failed leadership on solar development and all the jobs that come with it, saying:
And the jobs will keep coming once [Tennessee] completes the “Tennessee solar supply chain,” which will include not only multinational manufacturers, but also local jobs for distributors, sales, system design, installation and maintenance of this new source of energy. These will be permanent, home-grown jobs.