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Report: Solar jobs in Minn. jumped 113% over 2 years

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St. Cloud's effort began about three years ago to use renewable energy.
St. Cloud's effort began about three years ago to use renewable energy.
Kirsti Marohn | MPR News file

Jobs in the solar industry increased from 1,995 to 4,256 between 2015 and 2017, a new report finds.

About half of the jobs were focused on installation. Hennepin County had the most solar jobs by far, totaling 2,767 position in 2017, according to the report by the Solar Foundation. 

"We will continue doing everything we can to protect our environment and our health, while building an even stronger clean energy economy in Minnesota," Mark Dayton told the Solar Foundation. 

Nationwide, the organization's survey shows that solar employment declined 3.8 percent nationwide, from 260,077 jobs in 2016 to 250,271 in 2017. But solar jobs increased in 29 states and the District of Columbia, including Florida, Minnesota, Utah, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Georgia.

The nonprofit encouraged state officials to look at solar power as a key strategy for building local economies and supporting high-quality careers. California remained the state with the leading number of solar jobs in 2017.

Minnesota added 1,384 new jobs from 2016 to 2017, the second most of any state, and an increase of nearly 48 percent in solar job growth. 

Last year, solar capacity in Minnesota surpassed 700 megawatts, and it's only projected to keep increasing this year. 

The report reflects solar energy's continued growth in Minnesota. Renewable energy has now overtaken nuclear energy to become the state's second-largest source of electricity, a recent study found. 

Coal is still the largest electric power source, accounting for about 39 percent of energy generated in Minnesota.  

The Associated Press contributed to this report