Green power goal to add more jobs, study suggests

WASHINGTON Thu Feb 4, 2010 3:52pm EST

A worker of Signet Solar checks a photovoltaic module in a plant in Mochau, near Dresden, in this December 17, 2008 file photo. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke/Files

A worker of Signet Solar checks a photovoltaic module in a plant in Mochau, near Dresden, in this December 17, 2008 file photo.

Credit: Reuters/Hannibal Hanschke/Files

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A national mandate requiring utilities to generate 25 percent of power from sources such as wind and solar energy by 2025 will create three times more jobs than weaker measures Congress is considering, a study released by renewable energy advocates said on Thursday.

RES-Alliance for Jobs, a coalition of green power businesses and trade groups, is using the new study to promote the benefits of a high federal renewable electricity mandate.

"A strong renewable electricity standard is crucial to create a stable investment environment and grow this highly promising sector," said Don Furman, senior vice president for development, transmission, and policy at wind energy company Iberdrola Renewables.

"Without a strong RES, the US wind industry will see no net job growth, and will likely lose jobs to overseas competitors," Furman added.

Clean energy backers have been lobbying Congress to adopt a higher national renewable mandate than the measures lawmakers are considering, but they face opposition from lawmakers concerned about raising energy prices during a recession.

The study commissioned by the alliance found the industry would create 274,000 more jobs under a 25 percent renewable power standard than it would create without a mandate.

Such a standard would add three times more jobs than would be gained under a House approved renewable power target and a similar measure that's pending in the Senate, the study found.

The House passed a bill last year that would require at least 15 percent of electricity generated by utilities to come from renewable sources by 2020.

A mandate approved by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee would also set a 15 percent renewable power target, but states could meet up to a quarter of the mandate through energy efficiency measures.

Lawmakers from regions without a great deal of solar and wind resources have argued against imposing a stringent renewable electricity standard, saying their constituents would be penalized with more expensive power bills.

To counter this opposition, the alliance pointed to the study's findings that every state would gain more jobs from a higher renewable standard. The Southeast, which is heavily reliant on coal, would benefit from thousands of new jobs in the biomass industries, the study said. (Editing by David Gregorio) (ayesha.rascoe@thomsonreuters.com; +1 202 310 5683; Reuters Messaging: ayesha.rascoe.reuters.com@reuters.net))

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