Argument: Renewable Energy Standard fosters clean energy economy and jobs


Lew Hay, CEO of NextEra Energy (America’s largest clean energy developer), said in 2010: “With an RES, we estimate that we would invest approximately $1 billion more per year in wind and $1.5 billion in solar. That would translate into roughly 40,000 jobs over the next five years.”[1]

Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M, who introduced national renewable energy standard legislation: “Shifting our country toward homegrown renewable energy will create jobs and help reduce carbon pollution.”[2]

Amelia Timbers. “Why a National Renewable Energy Standard *Is* a Jobs Bill.” Triple Pundit. February 25th, 2010: Last week, the American Wind Energy Association held a webinar that went through a study by Navigant Consulting, pointing to the many ways passing a national renewable electricity standard would lead to an economic boon across the U.S.

It seems that the FOXNews message that a climate change bill would hurt job growth is untrue. (Surprised?) Paired with rigorous renewable energy standards, Navigant Consulting suggests that 274,000 blue collar construction jobs could be added in areas of the country that need both jobs and renewable energy. While Navigant based its assumptions on the big “if” that climate change legislation passes both houses, however its study should increase the momentum toward such a result.

The bad news is that without a climate change/ increased renewable energy standard combination, all states will see renewable energy jobs cut between the years 2010 and 2025, with the heaviest losses in California. Why? Because without increasing requirements for sustainable energy that drive up the demand for renewable energy in other states, California’s proliferating cleantech business is likely to plateau after meeting California’s needs.

The good news? The opposite is true when renewable electricity (and likely energy in general, though Navigant focused on electricity) standards are made national. In this scenario, states with big cleantech businesses–California, Texas, Massachusetts and Colorado, for example–can export technology and expertise to states in need. The other good news is that states that represent renewable energy “blue ocean” will see job growth proportionate to their renewable energy adoption. The only state that is not projected to see job benefits from national renewable electricity standards is Alabama, a state thus far resistant to renewable energy advocacy and still a strong fossil fuel producer. The other, other good news is that this level of renewable energy requirements would keep renewable energy jobs in the US that may otherwise be exported to Asia.

David Roberts. “Does the RES stand a chance?” Grist. September 8th, 2010: “Policy-wise, [a national renewable energy strategy] should be a no-brainer. To date, U.S. clean energy industries have been supported, if at all, by tax credits, which tend to come and go contingent on the political atmosphere and the mood of the Ways and Means Committee. An RES, even a modest RES, would be the first stable, long-term policy to support clean energy in the U.S. in, well, ever. It would enable serious long-term investor planning and spur some of the new infrastructure and industries America will need when we decide to get serious about climate change.”

Sam Brownback: “I would argue that most Americans believe that in addressing any challenge, it’s necessary to adopt a balanced, pragmatic strategy. In this case, a moderate RES would be an important step towards a cleaner energy future, but without the job-killing provisions that come with cap and tax.”[3]