When the U. S. economy is good, growth is expected to be from 3 to 4 percent. But in 2010, solar power industry grew by 67 percent. It has produced 20,000 jobs, which makes it the fastest growing industry in the United States last year.
There are some critics who said that the growth of solar power is due to the government subsidies and tax incentives given to solar installations. They say that solar energy is still the most expensive source of electricity.
Solar advocates counter these allegations by stating that the price of solar power has decreased in the past years because of the government subsidies. They asked the federal and state government leaders not to cut the incentives at this time.
In New York, its Assemblyman Steven Engelbright submitted the Solar Industry Development and Jobs Act last February but it was not voted on by the full Assembly because it already has a full agenda. According to a memo attached to the measure, the program could have enabled New York to fulfill the goal established by Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Renewable Energy Task Force of installing 100 megawatts of solar power in 2011.
The additional 100 megawatts of solar power installations would not have a big effect on New York’s electricity bills. It’s a small amount compared to the Indian Point nuclear power plant that generates 2,000 MW, which provides 25 percent of power in New York City and Westchester County.
But 100 MW will be a major improvement of solar power in New York, which has an installed capacity of 12.01 MW in 2010. The figures come from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, which is a program sponsored by the U. S. Department of Energy.
According to the U. S. Department of Energy, each megawatt from a solar power system can support 32 jobs. On such example of how the solar power industry can create jobs is Mercury Solar, which is based in Port Chester. When it was founded in 2006, it has two employees. At present, it has around 250 employees and already has branches in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. In the first half of 2011, it aims to install solar power systems worth $60 million.
This is a good argument for the state and federal leaders to continue on supporting solar power through subsidies and incentives. As the technology develops, the cost would go down to the point that subsidies would not be needed anymore. But until then, the government should support solar projects.