When I first heard about a solar technician opening at the Southern Oak Energy Center near my hometown of Camilla, I knew there would be a learning curve. Still, I thought it would be a great opportunity to get into the growing field of renewable energy.
Almost a year and a half later, I love my job and know I made the right decision.
As a solar technician, I help with day-to-day operations and maintenance needs like maintaining inverters and trackers, and correcting performance issues. I had little exposure to electricity generation when I started at Southern Oak, but it did not take long to get used to my new role.
My employer, Invenergy, offered a wide variety of training programs to make things easier and help me develop new skills. I received qualified electrical worker training, first aid and CPR certifications, and other technical instruction. There was a program to help me learn just about everything I could ever need to know on the job.
I want to encourage younger people reading this to get into the clean energy industry, especially if you already have electrical skills. Renewable energy jobs are growing in Georgia, and they pay nearly 20% higher than the statewide median wage.
In addition to the great pay, interesting work and opportunity to develop new skills, I also love working in solar because of the benefits clean energy brings to local Georgia communities.
Renewable energy projects in our state will provide $20.8 million in property, state and local taxes this year, which helps fund things like schools and emergency services. Clean energy has also attracted about $4 billion in private investment across Georgia, helping grow the economy.
The state’s farmers, ranchers and other private landowners are benefiting as well. Land lease payments for hosting clean power projects generate over $10 million each year in extra income.
That stable income for landowners and new investment in our state’s rural communities will only grow in the years ahead if Congress acts to enable smart policies that will accelerate the deployment of renewable technologies and the upgrades needed to our nation’s power grid.
I want folks in Georgia to understand what a great opportunity we have with renewable energy. Wind and solar technology are getting better, cheaper and more efficient every day.
In many places, solar energy is already the lowest cost option and prices are projected to further decline. Projects like Southern Oak create good jobs and real economic benefits for our communities.
We have to consider the environmental benefits as well. Unlike coal and other fossil fuel energy projects, renewable energy does not emit pollution into our air and water — helping preserve the planet for future generations.
That’s why I hope Sen. John Ossoff, Sen. Raphael Warnock and other Georgia leaders will support the clean energy measures in the infrastructure and budget bills working their way through Congress.
Renewable energy is the future, and now is the time to make Georgia a national leader in solar energy.
Bryant Knuth is a solar technician at Southern Oak Solar Energy Center in Mitchell County, Georgia.