The Obama administration distributed $9 billion in economic “stimulus” funds to solar and wind projects in 2009-11 that created, as the end result, 910 “direct” jobs — annual operation and maintenance positions — meaning that it cost about $9.8 million to establish each of those long-term jobs.
At the same time, those green energy projects also created, in the end, about 4,600 “indirect” jobs – positions indirectly supported by the annual operation and maintenance jobs — which means they cost about $1.9 million each ($9 billion divided by 4,600).
Combined (910 + 4,600 = 5,510), the direct and indirect jobs cost, on average, about $1.63 million each to produce.
As explained in a report by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, which is part of the U.S. Department of Energy, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (“economic stimulus”) of 2009 included Section 1603, a grant program run through the Treasury Department.
The 1603 program offered “renewable energy project developers a one-time cash payment” to reduce the need for green energy companies “to secure tax equity partners” and also help them to achieve “ ‘the near term goal of creating and retaining jobs’ in the renewable energy sector.”
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (EREL) tracked the grant program from its inception in 2009 through Nov. 10, 2011. Its report is entitled, Preliminary Analysis of the Jobs and Economic Impacts of Renewable Energy Projects Supported by the 1603 Treasury Grant Program.
The report explains that the program provided “approximately $9.0 billion in funds to over 23,000 PV and large wind projects.” PV stands for photovoltaic, which is the method by which solar power is turned into electricity, usually with solar panels or solar cells. There were specifically 197 large wind projects and 23,692 PV projects that received funds, according to the EREL report.
For calculating the number of green jobs created, the EREL did not actually count the people working at the facilities but instead relied upon Jobs and Economic Development Impact, or JEDI, computer models.
In its summary, the EREL report states that for the 2009-11 timeframe there were an average 52,000-75,000 “direct and indirect jobs per year” created for the construction, installation, and related work on the wind and solar projects.
These were temporary jobs, construction and installation work at the facilities, not long-term positions at the green energy sites.
The number of these “indirect,” temporary construction jobs averaged between 43,000 and 66,000, according to the EREL, and the “direct” jobs “supporting the design, development, and construction/installation of systems” averaged out to about 9,400 per year.
For the operation and maintenance (O&M) of the photovoltaic and large wind systems, however, the report states there are “between 5,100 and 5,500 direct and indirect jobs per year on an ongoing basis over the 20- to 30-year estimated life of the systems.”
President Barack Obama signed an economic stimulus law, now determined by the CBO to cost $821 billion, at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science on Feb. 17, 2009. (AP photo)
The report further clarifies that from that number there are 910 direct jobs and 4,200-4,600 indirect jobs per year.
The 910 jobs are “directly supporting the O&M of the systems” and that number “is significantly less than the number of [indirect] jobs supporting manufacturing and associated supply chains.”
Through the grant program, $9 billion was spent to, in the end, establish 910 jobs that will last upwards of 30 years. That means those jobs cost, in the end, about $9.8 million to create.
Add in the indirect jobs — high estimate of 4,600 — and there are 5,510 total jobs (direct and indirect). Starting with the $9 billion in grants, the end result to establish 5,510 jobs averages out to $1.63 million per job.