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NREL: Treasury 1603 supported up to 75,000 jobs

An April 6 report found that wind and PV projects participating in a Treasury Department program supported up to 75,000 jobs and $44 billion in total economic output from 2009 to 2011.

The Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) was asked to measure the jobs and economic impacts of projects that benefited from the §1603 Treasury grant program.

In place from 2009 to 2011 as part of President Obama’s stimulus package, Treasury 1603 reimbursed companies for up to 30 percent of the cost of renewable energy installations in lieu of tax credits.

The NREL analysis estimated the gross jobs, earnings, and economic output supported by the construction and operation of PV and large wind projects. NREL found that 23,380 PV systems (from 2 kW to 24,000 kW), coming to a total of 728 MW of capacity and around $3.3 billion in investment, were supported by the program.


Estimates of the Direct and Indirect Jobs, Earnings, and Economic Output Supported by PV and Large Wind Projects Funded Under the §1603 Grant Program. Credit: NREL


Taking account of both PV and wind projects, the report also found:

  1. Construction- and installation-related expenditures supported an average of 52,000–75,000 direct and indirect jobs per year from 2009 to 2011, and $9–$14 billion in total earnings and $26–$44 billion in economic output.

  2. Indirect jobs account for a significantly larger share of the estimated jobs (43,000–66,000 jobs per year) than those directly supporting the design, development, and construction/installation of systems (9,400 per year).

  3. The annual operation and maintenance (O&M) of these PV and wind systems are estimated to support between 5,100 and 5,500 direct and indirect jobs per year on an ongoing basis over the 20- to 30-year estimated life of the systems.

The authors noted that the results cannot necessarily be attributed the Treasury 1603 program alone, since some projects may have been completed without the 1603 program.

The NREL study referenced an EuPD Research finding that a one-year extension of the grant program would add over 37,000 jobs to the economy in 2012.

The authors noted that the NREL jobs figures were not directly comparable because the EuPD report included concentrating solar power technology jobs. Nevertheless, “the jobs intensity [of the EuPD Research study] does fall within the range estimated in [the NREL] study.”

Despite calls from industry stakeholders, the 1603 program was not extended at the end of 2011. However, President Obama did include the program in his proposed budget for fiscal year 2013. Unsurprisingly, the Administration took this report as a sign that the program was successful and should be reinstated.

In a blog post, Director of the DOE’s Office of Public Affairs Dan Leistikow said “the 1603 program has played a central role in meeting President Obama’s goal of doubling domestic energy production from renewable sources like wind and solar in his first term – which we are well on track to achieve.”

Leistikow said Treasury 1603 “has played a critical role in building the infrastructure that America will need to continue to compete globally in clean energy for years to come,” and has “ supported tens of thousands of jobs across the country.”

“That is why President Obama has called on Congress to extend the highly successful 1603 program,” he said.

Read the full NREL report here.

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