New study shows RES will create 274,000 jobs

Guest blog by AWEA's Carl Levesque

This has turned out to be the week that the need for a national renewable electricity standard (RES) became impossible to ignore. And the drumbeat keeps getting louder.

The latest such message: according to a study on jobs and a renewable electricity standard released today from the independent firm Navigant Consulting, Inc., a 25%-by-2025 RES would result in 274,000 more jobs supported by the renewables industry. Moreover, without a national RES, many states will actually lose jobs already supported by renewable energy, according to the study, which was commissioned by the RES Alliance for Jobs.

Many of the jobs created would be in parts of the country generally not assumed to benefit from renewable standards. Biomass jobs, for example, would double as a result of a 25% RES, with most of the increase concentrated in Louisiana, Florida, Georgia, Alabama, and Kentucky.

Echoing what wind advocates have been saying, the study also found that near- and mid-term targets—such as 12% by 2014 and 20% by 2020—are critical to ensure the U.S.’s competitiveness in the global wind industry.

The competitiveness issue was underlined earlier this week when the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) announced that China installed the most wind power capacity in 2009, deploying 13,000 MW last year compared to the nearly 10,000 MW that the U.S. installed.

“We invented this industry, and we’re giving it away because we haven’t had a national policy supporting renewables,” said AWEA Board President Don Furman of Iberdrola Renewables, speaking at the news conference called to roll out the Navigant study. China, he said, “is killing us.”

But it’s not too late. Said AWEA CEO Denise Bode regarding the latest GWEC numbers, “It is time to act now on a national Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) so that America can immediately create manufacturing jobs and be the world wind power leader. The economy can’t wait, job creation can’t wait, and America can’t wait.”

Message received, loud and clear–we hope.

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