Former Colorado Governor Bill Ritter opened the Solar Power Colorado conference Wednesday, March 15th with an overview of solar initiatives nationwide. While there may be policy uncertainty at the national level Ritter said, looking at solar initiatives at the state, local and corporate level is more promising. Ritter described the bipartisan support for solar energy among governors, indicating that while there are fewer of them, GOP governors in renewable energy resource-rich states are becoming strong renewable energy supporters for financial reasons. Now utility scale solar and wind are competing successfully with cheap natural gas. Kansas, Ritter said, is now selling renewably-generated electricity to southern states, something that was predicted many years ago, without much credibility. Citing a large renewable energy purchase by Microsoft, Ritter said that big corporations are also important drivers for renewable energy, bypassing policy obstacles at every political level.
Ritter also believes that eventually policy-makers will recognize the job-creation potential of solar, and give the industry the credit it deserves. The solar industry now employs more people than Google, Facebook and Amazon combined, something observers would never glean from reading the business news. Last year, one out of every 50 new jobs added in the United States in 2016 was created by the solar industry, representing 2% percent of all new jobs, according to the Solar Foundation.