MONTPELIER -- Vermont saw the nation's largest per capita gains last year for the number of solar-related jobs, leading the country in solar employment for 2013, according to an industry research group.
The Solar Foundation released an annual report Monday that ranked the Vermont No. 1 in the nation for solar jobs per capita. The state added nearly 1,000 solar jobs in 2013, totaling about 1,300, according to the foundation's website.
The report predicts solar employment will grow by 15 percent next year across the country, building on a 50 percent increase since 2010.
Installation costs for solar have decreased by 50 percent since 2010.
"Though these price reductions continue to impact certain industry sectors in different and sometimes disruptive ways, they continue to be widely and consistently cited as the leading driver of solar capacity growth," the report states.
Gov. Peter Shumlin issued a statement Tuesday on the report.
"This is a testament to the success of our renewable energy businesses, our forward-thinking utilities, and our innovative state policies," Shumlin said. "When we build solar projects in Vermont, we not only create local clean energy for the grid, we create jobs and economic benefits for our communities."
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who serves on Senate energy and environment committees, said the solar industry is central to Vermont's "bold vision" to move away from fossil fuels.
"A dramatic expansion of solar power is a clean and economical way to help break our dependence on foreign oil, reduce greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming, and create good-paying manufacturing and installation jobs in Vermont and across the United States," Sanders said in a statement on the report.
Renewable Energy Vermont, a trade association representing the renewable energy industry, said the achievement demonstrates the strength, vitality and importance of the solar industry in the state.
"This success would not be possible without the Renewable Energy Vermont (REV) member companies creating new jobs; Vermont's policy makers commitment to strong renewable energy regulations; and the thousands of Vermonters who are 'going solar,'" the statement reads.
The Vermont Public Interest Research Group is urging lawmakers maintain its commitment to renewable energy.
"With this new evidence of how much solar is bringing to the Vermont economy, we hope the Vermont Senate will move quickly to join the House in voting to build on our most successful solar program, net metering," said Ben Walsh, clean energy advocate with VPIRG.
Net metering is a program for customers to generate their own electricity and receive a credit from their utility for the power they produce.
The state offers a "SPEED" program, which guarantees renewable energy producers a fixed price for their power on projects larger than 500 kilowatts in size.
The full report, which is the fourth annual update of current employment and projected growth in the nation's solar industry, can be found here.