Loss of renewable energy tax credit would cost jobs, billions in investment

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More than 116,000 U.S. jobs and nearly $19 billion in investment could be lost in a single year if renewable energy tax credits are not extended by Congress.

Navigant Consulting found that more than 76,000 jobs are at risk in the wind industry, in addition to about 40,000 in the solar industry. Colorado is one of 11 states that could lose more than 1,000 jobs.

“This study confirms the huge economic stimulative impact of extending the tax credits for renewable energy,” commented Gregory Wetstone, senior director for public and government affairs of the American Wind Energy Association. “At risk are many thousands of construction jobs, operations and maintenance jobs, and a major shot in the arm for the ailing U.S. manufacturing sector. Shuttered facilities that once provided steel, railcars, trucks, submarines and household appliances are now being converted to manufacture renewable energy components. Today, however, investors are holding back because of Congress’s delay in extending renewable energy tax credits, undermining one of the brightest and fasting-growing areas of the American economy.”

The study was released just as the U.S. Department of Labor reported an economy-wide job loss for the first time since 2003. Some 17,000 pink slips were issued during January, with construction and factory workers especially hard hit.

The strong growth in the renewable energy industries kept the numbers of job losses low, Wetstone said. The industries created thousands of jobs during 2007, wind turbine installations employed thousands of workers in construction and at least 14 new manufacturing facilities have been opened or announced to make wind turbines and wind turbine components.