National Renewable Electricity Standard Could Create Jobs

February 8, 2010 - 10:17am -- Anonymous

A National Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) of 25 percent by 2025 could create 274,000 new renewable energy industry jobs, according to the report “Job Impacts of a National Renewable Electricity Standard” from RES Alliance for Jobs prepared by Navigant Consulting. The RES Alliance for Jobs is a coalition of businesses and organizations that support Congressional enactment of a strong federal RES. Thirty-six countries, including China, already have a RES, while in the U.S. legislation is pending.

New jobs in renewable energy development could be created in every region in the U.S., and many states could actually lose clean energy jobs without a national RES. The additional jobs would include gains of 116,000 in the wind industry, 60,000 in biomass, 50,000 in solar, 34,000 in hydropower and 15,000 in waste‐to‐energy. As unemployment continues to hover near 10 percent in the U.S., along with millions of uncounted "discouraged" or "marginal" workers, those jobs are crucial to building an economic recovery.

“The nation that leads the clean energy economy will be the nation that leads the global economy,” declared President Obama in his  State of the Union address, “And America must be that nation.” The White House Council of Economic Advisers recently reported that 2009 stimulus programs saved or created 2 million jobs with 51,700 of those in the clean energy sector. President Obama supports the goal of 25 percent renewables by 2025, but support in the Congress is less strong.

The proposed Senate American Clean Energy Leadership Act (S. 1462) includes a RES provision that would require electric utilities nationwide to meet 15 percent of their electricity sales through renewable sources of energy (e.g., the sun, the wind, biomass, geothermal energy, hydropower) or energy efficiency by 2021. The passed House American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (H.R. 2454) requires 6 percent in 2012, 9.5 percent in 2014, 13 percent in 2016, 16.5 percent in 2018, and 20 percent in 2021-2039.

The number of clean-energy jobs in the U.S. could more than double by 2025 with a 25 percent RES, but without a full commitment U.S. industries could be handicapped as other countries surge ahead. On-again, off-again short-term policies do not support the growth of long-term markets. China has quickly become the number one manufacturer of both solar panels and wind turbines in the world, as they have made clean energy growth a clear priority. Will the U.S. make the commitment?

Read the “Jobs Impact of a National Renewable Electricity Standard” study.