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25% US Renewable Electricity Standard Will Create 274,000 Jobs

A new study released by Navigant Consulting finds that a 25% by 2025 national Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) would support hundreds of thousands of new American jobs and prevent a near-term collapse in some industries. Job growth in the wind, solar, biomass, waste-to-energy and hydropower industries would particularly benefit the Southeastern U.S. and manufacturing states whose Congressional delegations have had a history of voting against incentives and other measures designed to support the renewable energy sector.

The "Job Impacts of a National Renewable Electricity Standard" study was released by the RES Alliance for Jobs and found that a 25% by 2025 national RES would support an additional 274,000 renewable energy jobs over a no-national policy option. The 25% figure is significantly higher than RES mandate in current legislation and the expected jobs supported in the current House and Senate provisions would be considerably lower.

In addition, the study found that without stronger near-term targets than currently envisioned, industries like wind will experience flat job growth and long-term stagnation, while the U.S. biomass industry could collapse altogether. The RES Alliance recommends raising near-term RES targets in federal legislation to 12% in 2014 and 20% in 2020.

"A strong Renewable Electricity Standard is crucial to create a stable investment environment and grow this highly promising sector. Without a strong RES, the U.S. wind industry will see no net job growth, and will likely lose jobs to overseas competitors. A target like 25 percent by 2025 would allow American wind companies to support double the amount of jobs than without a policy -- about 125,000 additional jobs. That's a gain our country cannot afford to pass up," said Don Furman, senior vice president for development, transmission and policy at Iberdrola Renewables.

States that stand to gain the most from a strong RES, according to the RES Alliance / Navigant Consulting study, include:

  • Louisiana, Alabama, Kentucky, Tennessee Georgia and Florida that can benefit from substantial biomass and municipal solid waste-to-energy
  • Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Indiana, which will gain from growth in manufacturing for a wide range of technologies
  • North and South Dakota, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska and Illinois, home to major wind resources
  • Colorado, Arizona, Oregon and California, where solar, wind and hydropower have significant growth potential
  • States that do not currently have renewables standards or targets like Indiana, Florida, Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Alabama

The study emphasizes that while tax credits continue to play a critically important role in preserving the viability of existing facilities, an RES is needed in order to support both near- and long-term investments.

To read the full report, click here.

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