A study, published this week, shows the economic influence of alternative energy and Green Jobs legislation, which increases our alternative energy demands.

First of all, we will have nearly 130.000 more good jobs and nearly $26 billion economic output and $5.5 billion in earnings and $1.9 -4.6 billion savings of consumers.

All this is on top of the jobs and the boost to the economy we have already enjoyed from our existing clean energy requirements, thanks to our landmark Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard (AEPS), passed in 2004. That law requires that Pennsylvania’s electricity suppliers provide 8 percent from renewable resources and 10 percent from alternative resources by 2021. The new Clean Energy legislation would increase the renewable part of the law from 8 to 15 percent by 2026, with a 3 percent requirement for solar energy. The proposed bill also requires an additional 3 percent requirement (from the second alternative resource tier) from existing coal-fired power plants which capture and store the carbon pollution they create.

The study by the global engineering, consulting and construction firm Black&Veatch, which was commissioned by the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies, gives a clear picture of where we are today in the new clean energy economy, and exactly how Pennsylvania will thrive if we do.

First, the study looked at the current situation, and the impact of that law on our economy. And it’s clear that the AEPS worked even better than we thought it would. The AEPS has attracted both new renewable energy manufacturing facilities and new power plants.

Thanks to the investments spurred by the law, we have created 3,000 clean energy businesses employing 40,000 people; stimulated new renewable energy manufacturing; and we have 40 companies making components just for the wind energy industry. And there’s room for much more – a University of Massachusetts study showed that 127,940 Pennsylvanians currently working in other areas could move to the wind power industry, and 217,140 could move to the solar industry. That’s quite a hedge against job loss, and gobs of workers who could benefit from the proposed legislation.

The Black&Veatch report also knocks down the canard that Pennsylvania can’t meet the demand for clean energy contained in the new legislation. Nothing could be further from the truth. The analysis shows that Pennsylvania theoretically has enough long term renewable energy potential to satisfy its entire electrical power needs – nearly seven times the 2007 retail load.

The report clearly shows that adding more clean energy is better for Pennsylvania’s economy than relying on electricity from fossil fuels. By nearly every economic measure, adding more renewable energy means more jobs, higher earnings, more electricity to sell, and more investment in local economies. And while the initial cost of some renewable energy facilities is higher, the additional income earned and expenditures made by Pennsylvanians working in the renewable energy industry more than make up for the relatively small increase in electricity costs.

This study, along with four other reports on the issue, also shows that any cost increase for renewable energy would be offset by cost decreases for electricity overall. The use of energy that is fuel-free, like solar and wind, will decrease fossil fuel prices through decreased demand, provide a hedge against price increases for fuel prices, and suppress the overall prices for electricity, especially wholesale market prices. How much? According to PJM, the regional electricity transmission organization, 15,000 MW of low cost renewables could cut wholesale electricity prices by $3.5 to $6.2 billion, as compared to relying on more fossil fueled electricity if the new legislation isn’t enacted. That more than makes up for any direct electricity cost increase, with consumer savings of $1.9 to $4.6 billion.

The choice is clear. Pass HB 80/SB 92 and have gobs and gobs of clean energy and green jobs and build our economy and save consumers billions in the process. Or don’t pass this smart legislation, and watch the jobs, businesses, and money go elsewhere.

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