Monday, August 20, 2007

What about jobs?

In 2001 the Tellus Institute released a report entitled "Clean Energy: Jobs for America's Future."

The report gathered a group of economists together to answer the question: what would happen to the U.S. economy if the nation moved to an energy policy that relies less on fossil and more on renewable energy and aggressive energy efficiency measures?

The results may surprise some folks who think "green" policies will harm the economy. In fact, the reverse is true: a clean energy future for the nation and South Carolina is good for the economy.

Here are a sample of the benefits uncovered by the report:

  • A net annual employment increase of over 700,000 jobs in 2010, rising to approximately 1.3 million by 2020.
  • Households and business would accumulate savings of over $600 billion by 2020
  • GDP would be about $43.9 billion above the base case in 2020
  • An additional $51.4 billion in wage an salary compensation by 2020 relative to the base case
  • Each state would experience a positive net job impact
In South Carolina the net job impact would be 11,500 new jobs by 2010 and 20,000 new jobs in 2020.

Compare this to the "substantial economic benefits" estimated by Santee Cooper as a result of its proposed Pee Dee plant in Kingsburg, SC. From Santee Cooper's website:
  • 1400 [temporary] construction jobs
  • Approximately 100 [permanent] full time jobs
So by the time this plant is built, it will have provided less than one-half of 1% of the jobs that can be created through a policy focused on energy efficiency and renewables. As for Florence County, Santee Cooper has been unable to tell the public exactly how many of these jobs will come from the local area. It is a safe bet that this number will not be as great as jobs-hungry southern Florence county needs it to be.

In short, the Tellus report suggests far more jobs can be created by pursuing a clean energy policy than by pursuing a dirty one.

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