The Solar Foundation has mapped jobs created by the solar power industry in each state:
Sunny California leads the nation in solar jobs, followed by Arizona. One would expect lots of solar power jobs in such sunny places. But #3 in total solar jobs is New Jersey. Pennsylvania, New York, Michigan, and Ohio also make this top ten. Compare those states solar-job performance with the amount of sunshine they get that could produce electricity:
Six of the top ten solar-job states have less photovoltaic solar power to exploit than South Dakota. So does our snowy neighbor Minnesota, which has more folks working on solar panels than we do. South Dakota is at the bottom of the pile with Wyoming and West Virginia. We have a relative wealth of sunlight, more in West River than East, but we let it go to waste. Our state encourages dreamers to punch holes in the ground hunting for black gold, but it ignores the solar gold falling plainly on our heads (well, not this morning, but more of the time than in New Jersey!).
According to this summary, California has more solar workers than actors. Texas has more solar workers than ranchers. Nationwide, solar power puts 119,000 people to work, more than the coal mining industry. If solar jobs keep growing at the rates seen since 2010, the U.S. will add 20,000 solar power jobs this year. That's more jobs than we'll ever see from the Keystone XL pipeline, temporary or permanent.
Just as with our under-tapped wind resources, South Dakota is failing to capitalize on its strong potential for solar energy. Forget looking for seepage from the Bakken; let's concentrate on developing our clean and abundant renewable resources for South Dakota energy independence.