In The Economic Impact of Renewable Energy, Steven Lacey of Renewable Energy Access examines the economic impact of New Hampshire’s moves toward a renewable portfolio standard (RPS). An RPS creates a standard for a certain percentage of energy (electricity) to come from renewable sources. Lacey’s conclusion — based on work done by the University of New Hampshire — the future is good, the RPS should have positive impacts on New Hampshire’s economy (even without considering secondary benefits, like reduced pollution).
A University of New Hampshire study released this February titled, “Economic Impact of a New Hampshire Renewable Portfolio Standard,” concluded that an adoption of 20 percent renewable energy will create thousands of jobs with wages much higher than the current state average, generate over $1 million in state revenue, and provide a “newfound opportunity for NH residents to start businesses.”
Ross Gittell and Matt Magnusson, the two research leads, concluded:
A New Hampshire renewable portfolio standard (RPS) can:
- Help diversify New Hampshire and the region’s power-generating capacity and reduce dependency on imported sources
- Increase the potential for new renewable energy development within the state and help support the continued operation of existing renewable energy resources
There are costs associated with a RPS; however, the net economic and environmental benefits are expected to be positive for New Hampshire.
Gittell/Magnusson estimated 1100 full-time jobs and $1 million in annual additional tax revenue by 2025.
This study echoes others done over the years. The Renewabl and Appropriate Energy Laboratory (RAEL), UC-Berkeley, did a meta-analysis in 2004:
examined 13 studies on the economic benefits of renewable energy, approximately 240,000 jobs could be created and maintained if the country passed a 20 percent by 2020 RPS. If the U.S. relied solely on fossil fuels, the country would only maintain around 75,000 jobs.
Thus, a national RPS standard would equate to an additional 165,000 jobs over maintaining a fossil-fuel based system.
“We found that you get three to five times the amount of jobs in the renewables area than you do in fossil fuels,” said Dan Kammen, director of RAEL and co-author of the meta-analysis. “The finding was not that there’s some incredibly intrinsic, wonderful feature about renewables, even though I might think there is. It was that these benefits go to the first victors.”
So, who are going to be the first victors?
Well, when it comes to American wind, perhaps the Europeans …