We cover all kinds of public policy issues facing Las Vegas and Nevada in general, including those related to the state’s budget, fiscal situation, labor market, and various other industries, such as gaming, real estate, or even solar. Actually, the Nevadan solar industry has seen remarkable growth in recent years, a fact which has not eluded us.
Significantly, national headlines have been promoting recent huge increases by the solar industry in Nevada. Benefiting from a 146% increase in solar related jobs over 2013, nearly 6,000 Nevadans are now employed by the solar industry. As reported by the Solar Foundation, Nevada now leads the country in solar jobs per capita.
The current solar boom in the Silver State has been aided by public policy initiatives and forward focused leadership on alternative energy. Some critics though have charged that solar energy may suffer from the same boom and bust cycles that have plagued other Nevada industries such as mining. One of the most common complaints is that solar only generates short term regional economic job growth through temporary construction jobs. Once the facilities are built, those jobs disappear.
Such critics point out the numbers for the Silver State South solar project. Under construction near Primm, Nevada, the 250 megawatt solar energy project has created around 300 construction jobs. Once the facility is complete though, it will require only around 10 full time employees to operate. Much like other large infrastructure projects, the largest job growth is temporary and only at the beginning of the project.
Of course, thousands of solar jobs are also being created in Nevada for residential solar power. Nevada’s largest residential solar provider, SolarCity, has experienced tremendous growth over the past few years and still hiring. Along with installation teams, SolarCity also employs account managers, customer service representatives, other support staff. While SolarCity’s growth is dependant on new homeowners installing solar, it will likely be a long time before every Nevadan has solar on their house.
As with all emerging technologies, the ultimate success of Nevada’s public policy on solar energy will be determined in the future. Stay tuned with RCG1 Economics for more reports on public policy issues in Nevada and on the regional economic situation in the Silver state.