The Clean Energy-Powered Post-Pandemic Jobs Recovery
America's getting vaccinated. For a country and an economy disrupted by COVID-19, finally there is light at the end of the tunnel. But recovering from the economic devastation left by this pandemic will be one of the greatest challenges Washington policymakers have ever faced.
Our country will need to support jobs for hundreds of thousands of Americans who have been displaced from businesses that will never open their doors again. Simultaneously, we have a new administration committed to tackling climate change and promising a cleaner energy future for Americans.
Fortunately, our economic recovery and a cleaner future can go hand in hand in the post-pandemic world. It starts with power.
Wind, solar, energy storage, hydropower, and other renewables have the power to unlock impressive economic growth. In fact, achieving a majority renewables grid within the next decade will deploy over $1 trillion in capital investment into the American economy. It will also support 980,000 direct, renewable energy jobs, stabilizing wholesale power prices and reducing US carbon emissions by over 60%.
Heather Zichal and Amanda Little WW0 Facebook Live conversation broadcast on 2/18/2021.
"Fortunately, our economic recovery and a cleaner future can go hand in hand in the post-pandemic world. It starts with power."
Make no mistake -- it takes policy, not just private sector action, to get where we all need to go. Targeted administrative actions and legislative policies are essential for the US to achieve the benefits of renewables within the next ten years. This includes a heavy emphasis on transmission expansion to unlock wind and solar resources, increasing energy storage capacity to maximize the power output of these clean resources, and improving grid infrastructure to smooth the pathway to a 50% renewable electricity sector.
Under the right policies, average wholesale prices for electricity will remain stable or decline through the decade. Transmission, energy storage additions, and sufficient grid reserve margins will maintain grid stability and reliability. The total capital investment to reach 50% renewables will top $1 trillion by 2030, with at least a quarter of that investment occurring local to where wind, solar, and storage projects are built. The federal government can rapidly accelerate this economic growth and renewable energy deployment through executive and legislative action -- and the Biden Administration is sending the right signals about taking the actions we need early and often.
"...achieving a majority renewables grid within the next decade will deploy over $1 trillion in capital investment into the American economy. It would also support 980,000 direct, renewable energy jobs..."
There's no time to waste. The job benefits from a 50% renewable energy future will be felt in states from coast to coast. For example, Indiana, Pennsylvania, California, Ohio, New Jersey, New York, and Virginia will each gain over 30,000 new jobs, with Illinois, Maryland, and North Carolina each adding over 20,000. Another 11 states will add at least 10,000 new jobs as part of the transition to a cleaner electric grid. These careers include those in new and expanded domestic manufacturing facilities that provide the local supply chains required for clean energy development.
Striving for high renewable penetration not only serves clean energy goals, but also supports economic growth. With these actions and policies in place -- wind, solar, energy storage, and transmission will directly employ nearly 1 million Americans by the end of the decade. This number includes over 800,000 Americans in construction and technician jobs, alongside 173,000 in factory, distribution, and development jobs. These high-quality jobs in the clean energy workforce pay an average of $60,000-$110,000/year. Significant investments in US factories and domestic energy production will help achieve this progress and offer a new path to employment for displaced legacy energy industry workers as those industries begin to dial back.
"The federal government can rapidly accelerate this economic growth and renewable energy deployment through executive and legislative action … Over the decade, wind and solar projects are expected to pay $39 billion in state and local tax payments."
State governments will also benefit from the renewable energy decade thanks to significant tax contributions from these projects. And these funds come at a time when states need it most -- in the wake of COVID-19 spending that has left many state budgets decimated. Over the decade, wind and solar projects are expected to pay $39 billion in state and local tax payments. At the same time, landowners will see an influx of $25 billion, providing a drought-proof, cash crop.
This path can be a game changer, involving a commitment from the public and private sector to a long-term economic program and building a better energy system that will pay dividends for decades to come. The opportunity for a cleaner, more prosperous tomorrow is right in front of us. It’s up to us to seize it -- now.