The Cost of Wind Energy Jobs

September 28, 2012

The production tax credit (PTC) for wind energy is set to expire at the end of the year and has invited a fierce debate in Congress over its extension. Democrats, along with the wind industry, argue that the tax is necessary to sustain the industry; otherwise 37,000 jobs will be lost.  However, a look at the facts reveals a different picture of the wind industry and the necessity of the PTC, says Robert Bryce, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute.

  • The Joint Committee on Taxation puts the cost of extending the PTC at $12.18 billion from 2013 to 2022.
  • Divided by the 37,000 jobs, that would amount to a federal subsidy of $329,000 for each job.
  • After that is spread out over a decade, the cost for each wind energy job comes out to $32,900.

The wind industry does far less for the economy than the fossil fuel industry yet continues to get massive federal funding.

  • The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the fossil fuel sector receives $2.5 billion per year in tax preferences.
  • Furthermore, the total direct employment from the oil-and-gas sector is around 1.2 million jobs.
  • That comes out to about $2,100 per job per year.

As the data shows, taxpayers spend about 15 times more on wind energy jobs than jobs in oil-and-gas. The Texas state comptroller reported that each wind-related job in Texas costs taxpayers $1.6 million.

The Shepherds Flat wind project in Oregon provides a perfect example of how the wind industry fails to create jobs.

  • The project is receiving $490 million in cash grants from the federal government.
  • Yet, the plan is only expected to make 35 permanent jobs.
  • The cost of each job comes out to be around $14 million.

Source: Robert Bryce, "The Cost of Wind-Energy Jobs," National Review Online, September 17, 2012.


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