Study: Increasing Renewable Energy Creates 130,000 Jobs, Increases Electric Costs $1.6 Billion
A study released this week by PennFuture calculates increasing the renewable energy mandates in the state's Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards would generate 130,000 jobs and save between $1.9 and $4.6 billion. The study also said it would increase the cost of electricity by $1.6 billion over the study period.
The study by Black & Veatch analyzed the impact of the provisions of House Bill 80 (Vitali-D-Delaware) and Senate Bill 92 (Erickson-R-Delaware) that would increase the renewable requirements from 8 to 15 percent by 2026 with a 3 percent set aside for solar energy
“This study proves that the Clean Energy and Green Jobs legislation makes cents – at least 190 billion cents, to be exact,” said Jan Jarrett, president and CEO of PennFuture. “Passing this legislation would mean we are saying yes to new jobs, yes to billions in investment, and yes to billions in savings to our state’s families and businesses. And saying no would mean we are willing to watch all those benefits go elsewhere.
“The legislation before the Pennsylvania General Assembly builds on the 2004 Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard, which has been a terrific success in producing our 21st Century economy,” continued Jarrett. “Thanks to the investments spurred by the law, we have created 3,000 clean energy businesses employing 40,000 people; stimulated new renewable energy manufacturing; and we have 40 companies making components just for the wind energy industry. We have wind farms all across the state and solar power in every corner. We have shown terrific leadership in our clean and green market.
“But we are in danger of losing that lead, and having the money and jobs go elsewhere, unless we pass the Clean Energy and Green Jobs legislation,” said Jarrett. “Our neighboring states are adopting renewable energy standards that are larger than our current requirements, and the investments will follow. It’s time for the Pennsylvania General Assembly to pass this legislation, and take advantage of the jobs and money it will bring.”
"The economy is in the midst of a slow recovery, but the consensus is that it will take some time before people go back to work and we can really put a dent in lowering the unemployment rate," said Gov. Rendell. "If we intensify our efforts to build a green economy, we can get people back to work sooner, attract billions of dollars in investment to the state, help families and businesses save money, and clean our environment.
"As this study clearly shows, shifting towards a clean, green economy is a win for our workforce and our economy on all fronts."
A copy of the report is available online.
The Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry urged the Commonwealth to embrace an energy strategy that includes both traditional and renewable sources within the framework of the free enterprise system.
“While some lawmakers and environmental groups continue to advocate government mandates and taxpayer subsidies as the best solutions for Pennsylvania’s energy future, the long-term interest of the Commonwealth and its residents will be best served by allowing market forces to determine viable and affordable energy options,” said Gene Barr, PA Chamber vice president of government and public affairs. “This includes alternative and fossil fuels, as both will be needed to meet the ever-increasing demand for energy.”
Barr said the business community’s opposition to legislation-- House Bill 80-- that would extend government mandates for specific forms of alternative energy has been mischaracterized by proponents who mistakenly interpret commonsense arguments against a well-meaning but misguided bill to mean blanket opposition to alternative energy in general.
“The problem with House Bill 80,” Barr explained, “is the approach to alternative energy policy it espouses – having government create a market for specific types of energy, and then subsidizing it to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars.”
Barr said this approach thwarts innovation and leads to inflexibility with regard to alternative energy.
“By shutting out one-third of the market, which would occur under House Bill 80, Pennsylvania is essentially shutting out alternative energies that may not even be developed yet and may not get developed because they wouldn’t be included on some arbitrary list of qualifying alternative energy sources,” he said, stressing that government cannot adequately predict what the next alternative energy breakthrough might be next year, let alone five or 10 years from now.
In addition, estimates are that the additional mandates could add as much as $9 billion to $12 billion to the cost of electricity purchases in future years at a time when job creators and residents can least afford it.
Barr said the related job creation debate also needs to be put into perspective.
“Of course government mandates create jobs,” Barr said. “But those jobs are paid for with taxpayer dollars and come at higher costs for consumers. Looking long-term, this is not a strategy for success. Government and/or government subsidized job creation cannot occur at the expense of private sector job growth.”
Barr said lawmakers should learn a lesson from some European countries in which the government mandate approach to energy policy has proven more expensive than beneficial.
Pennsylvania will need all forms of energy in its mix. The free market is best for ensuring the availability of affordable, viable options from which businesses and individuals can make the best choices to meet their needs. With deregulation, consumers can already purchase energy from alternative sources if they desire to do so. Under House Bill 80, the ability to choose would be diminished.
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