The number of people employed in Arizona’s solar industry dropped in 2013 compared to 2012, but the state still ranks second in the nation for solar jobs, according a report by The Solar Foundation, a Washington D.C.-based nonprofit organization.
Just fewer than 9,000 people were employed in the solar industry in the state last year, which is a 13 percent decline from 2012.
Bret Fanshaw, the state advocate for Environment Arizona, an advocacy organization, said he attributes the decline to uncertainty at the regulatory level.
In 2013, the Arizona Corporation Commission phased out incentives for commercial renewable energy installations, slashed incentives for residential customers who install photovoltaic systems, and is considering dropping a requirement that utilities get a certain amount of energy from rooftop solar installations.
“Utility companies - specifically APS right now is actually asking the commission to eliminate that carve out. And that would really take us backwards," Fanshaw said.
The report showed employers in the sector expect the national workforce to grow by around 16 percent this year, but merely 6 percent in Arizona. Despite that, Fanshaw said he is optimistic.
“Arizona can definitely be a solar leader...but we need to have good policies in place to attract companies to do solar in Arizona," he said.