NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

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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