Solar Jobs: Californians Overwhelmingly Vote for More Solar

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In the recent elections, an overwhelming majority of Californians voted to close a corporate tax loophole, and to give nearly half the funds–$2.5 billion–to green energy and solar jobs. Over 60 percent of voters supported Proposition 39. California will also be implementing a cap-and-trade program selling carbon allowances, and revenues from that could exceed $11 billion by 2020.

All that money is set to go toward green energy, too.

The state already has a sunny reputation for solar jobs, coming in at number two in the nation for solar development, after New Jersey. It already has a successful green program–the California Solar Initiative, or CSI, in place since 2007. The CSI received almost the same amount of funding as Prop 39, and resulted in a revolution of rooftop solar installations in the state, as well as tens of thousands of solar jobs.

Meanwhile, the U.S. as a whole is hemming and hawing over putting money into green initiatives and solar jobs. In 2010, a bill for a cap-and-trade carbon emissions control program didn’t make it past the Senate. Currently, the Department of Energy’s loan-guarantee program faces strong opposition among Congressional leaders, especially Republicans, and is suffering a bad reputation among the public.

The California Air Resources Board is tasked with getting California’s cap-and-trade program up and running. Mary Nichols, chair of the Board, said “We put our money where our mouths are. We back up what we do in regulation by shifting subsidies from things that pollute and are inefficient to things that are more efficient and make our state more resilient.”

So where’s all this money going to go, specifically? A portion will go to schools, and another portion toward creating solar jobs to improve energy efficiency–this is a broad provision that could include a lot of businesses. The rest hasn’t been allocated yet.

By Leslie Hedrick

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