The U.S. economy continued to produce new green job possibilities in the third quarter of 2012, but at a slower rate than earlier in the year, according to the latest report [PDF] from the advocacy group Environmental Entrepreneurs. The culprit in the slowdown: the expiring production tax credit for wind energy.
Environmental Entrepreneurs -- or E2, as it likes to call itself -- uses an interesting metric for gauging employment dynamics in the green jobs sector: It tracks “projects across the United States that will create new jobs in manufacturing, public transportation, power generation and energy efficiency.”
The group says that if all the jobs announced among 66 projects it tracked in the third quarter became reality, 10,819 new jobs would be created. That sounds pretty solid, but it’s actually a steep decline from the 37,000 clean energy jobs announced in the second quarter and the 46,000 announced in the first quarter. Making the trend even more striking was the fact that this decline in growth came while the overall economy was beginning to pick up some steam.
“Against a backdrop of rising employment in the overall economy, the decline in clean energy job growth is attributable to Congress’ failure to extend the Production Tax Credit and uncertainty created by some campaign proposals to end or dramatically scale back federal support for renewable energy,” the group said.
Image via Environmental Entrepreneurs
Without the key 2.2 cents per kilowatt-hour subsidy in place, companies are putting off plans to build new wind farms, and that’s having a ripple effect through the industry supply chain, which has been beset by layoffs for months.
E2 said it doesn’t typically track layoffs, but the looming PTC expiration has been such a powerful factor that the group couldn’t ignore the pink slips going out. Here’s its assessment of the situation:
“Since January, E2 has tracked at least twenty job layoff announcements spanning seventeen states, totaling a minimum of 3,240 jobs lost. Eighteen of these announcements occurred in Q3 2012. A majority of these announcements came from wind energy manufacturers, who are experiencing a significant drop in orders for parts and components. We anticipate seeing a steady increase in job layoff announcements from manufacturers, developers, and other companies throughout the wind energy supply chain if Congress lets the PTC expire.”
The good news -- or, at least, hopeful news -- is that advocates for a PTC extension believe there is a good chance that the recently concluded election cycle showed Congress that there is strong nationwide support for wind energy. That, they hope, will inspire the lame-duck Congress to deliver a PTC bill to the president, who strongly backs an extension.