Solar Energy Regulation in New Jersey

New Jersey is the third-largest state in the United States, geographically. It is located between New York and Pennsylvania. The southern part of the state is dominated by sandstone and shale, while the northern part is marked by limestone and granite. The state has a diverse climate, with warm to hot temperatures and humid summer days. In the winter, the temperatures drop sharply, and it is not uncommon to see snow in the northern part of the state. Due to its location on the Eastern Seaboard, New Jersey is well-positioned for solar energy development. The state sits on top of the New York Megadome, which is one of the largest solar power plants in the world. The plant generates enough electricity to power 140,000 homes. When it comes to solar power and the environment, many people in New Jersey may feel that the plant is a good source of clean energy, but there are still a few concerns.

Are The Jobs Beneficial To The State?

A commonly cited concern regarding solar energy in New Jersey is whether or not the jobs created by the industry are a good use of state resources. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), the state already has a very high number of solar energy-related jobs, with over 22,000 individuals currently working in the industry. It is estimated that adding another 7,000 jobs would have a major positive impact on the state’s economy. The industry’s influence is also apparent in the state’s legislative agenda, which currently prioritises economic growth, renewable energy, and job creation.

Are The Wages Fair?

A frequent criticism of the solar industry is that the wages are either unfairly low or non-existent. The average income in the industry is only around $45,000 annually, while the cost of living in New Jersey is around $75,000. A report published by the SEIA in 2017 found that over half of the respondents (53%) either strongly or somewhat agreed that the wages were not fair, with only 8% disagreeing. The issue of low wages in the solar industry has been a source of contention for some time, and the SEIA report notes that many in the industry have tried, and in some cases succeeded in negotiating higher salaries.

How To Increase Diversity In The Industry.

According to a 2017 report conducted by the SEIA, there is a great deal of diversity in the solar industry. In fact, the report found that 41% of the respondents were from minority groups, with the highest concentrations in Hispanics (48%) and Asians (32%). This is compared to the general population where 16% of the workers are from minority groups. The report cited the lack of diversity in the industry as one of the major barriers to growth. To overcome this, the SEIA is committed to increasing the representation of minority groups in the company. In addition to this, the group is also committed to increasing the number of women in the industry. Currently, only 14% of the industry are women, while 86% are men. The group has proposed legislation, aimed at increasing the number of women in the industry, as a way of increasing diversity in the solar sector.

Is There A Lack Of Leadership In The Industry?

In many industries, including the solar energy industry, there is a perception that there is a lack of leadership. Only 20% of the respondents to the SEIA survey said that they had a clear idea of what their role was in the company, compared to 37% who had no idea and 33% who thought that their role was either slightly or very unclear. The survey also found that 40% were discouraged about the future of the industry, while only 14% were encouraged. This is in contrast to the results for the overall economy where 32% of the respondents were discouraged and 14% were encouraged. The survey respondents were also asked about their interest in following/working for/in a company, and only 15% were interested in a leadership position, compared to 37% who were either not very or not at all interested.

How To Increase Energy Independence.

A significant number of the respondents to the SEIA survey (31%) wanted to work for a company that provides energy independence, with 17% wanting to work for an energy company that is 100% renewable. Currently, New Jersey, along with the rest of the country, gets a large proportion of its electricity from fossil fuels, particularly coal. Even before the current administration took office, many of the proposed policies included a push towards energy independence. This is evident in New Jersey’s energy economy, where there is a growing preference for renewable energy sources. It is likely that as more and more states pursue an energy-independent future, the demand for employees in the renewable energy field will increase.

This article was written by Joanna Lillis, PhD, Senior Researcher at NEES. Lillis has an extensive career in the environment and public health. She works closely with the New Jersey Division of Planning and Economics to develop environmental impact assessment tools and policies. Lillis has particular expertise in air quality, and in recent years has focused on the impacts of climate change on air quality. Her work has appeared in a number of notable publications, including The New York Times and The Washington Post. You can follow her on Twitter @bjlillis.

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