Survey Demonstrates Solar’s Net Positive Impact Upon the Washington State Economy

In 2014, Solar Washington, a nonprofit organization advancing solar energy in Washington State, collected data from solar installers and manufacturers directly involved in the solar industry in Washington State in order to gain insight into the solar industry's collective impact upon the state economy. 

Results from the data show that for every dollar of the Washington State solar incentive redirected to PV system owners, the state sees $2.46 injected back into the local economy. Based on data collected reflecting business activity in 2013, $48.2 million would be injected in to the economy as a result of the $19.6M that the state will pay out in solar incentives. These findings are especially noteworthy as decision makers in Olympia review the current solar incentive structure during this legislative session.  

“Based on the data we’ve gathered, solar incentives in Washington State pay for themselves many times over and are a boon to the state economy," said David Nicol, Board President of Solar Washington.

Here’s how the $48M breaks out as injections into the Washington local economy:

  • $25.4 million in payroll

  • $21.5 million in equipment purchases from in-state suppliers and vendors

  • $1.3 million in tax revenues to state and local governments (B&O, Sales, Business Permits)

The Washington state solar incentive program (known as the Washington State Cost Recovery Incentive Payment Program) was created in 2005, and last year enabled utilities to redirect $2.8 million (1) in taxes as incentives to homeowners and small businesses that installed new solar systems. Over the seven years that these 2013 installations will collect incentives, utilities will redirect a total of $19.6M to them in the form of incentive payments.

In all likelihood, these numbers under-represent the impact of the solar industry in Washington State. The Solar Washington survey represents 55 companies and 786 jobs. However, the Solar Foundation conducted a census of solar jobs in Washington State and concluded that in 2013 there were 102 solar companies representing 2,000 jobs involved in the manufacturing, installation and sales of solar in Washington State. Given the larger numbers of companies and jobs represented by the Solar Foundation’s Solar Census, the impact of the solar industry in Washington could be twice as large as demonstrated by the Solar Washington survey.