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NEI's CEO Marv Fertel on Nuclear Jobs

National Journal's Blog asked a group of experts if the Obama Administration is focusing too much on the jobs created by renewable energy:
The federal government is funneling billions of dollars into renewable energy projects. When evaluating those investments, should the main criterion be the number of jobs "created" by the project? What other standards should be used to evaluate those projects? Is the Obama Administration focusing too much of its attention on renewable energy projects, to the exclusion of traditional sources of energy?
So far five experts have responded, NEI's CEO Marv Fertel, being one of them:
Nuclear power plants provide more jobs than any other source of electricity. Based on jobs per 1,000 megawatts of electric generating capacity, nuclear plants create 500 new jobs, compared to 220 for coal plants, 90 for wind plants and 60 for natural gas-fueled plants, according to Ventyx and the Energy Department.


In the last three years, private investment in new nuclear power plants has created an estimated 14,000-15,000 jobs. The nuclear industry has invested more than $4 billion in new nuclear plant development, and plans to invest approximately $8 billion in the next several years to be in a position to start construction in 2011-2012.
David Kreutzer from the Heritage Foundation also had some intriguing things to say:
The problem with renewable energy subsidies as job creators is they don’t create net jobs. Yes, with sufficient subsidies you can induce people to work in places they otherwise wouldn’t. You can point to people making windmill blades or installing solar panels or whatever and talk about the new “green” jobs. But you miss the jobs lost when the funds for the subsidies are pulled from other parts of the economy either by taxing or borrowing.


It is no surprise that researchers in Spain, evaluating the actual data as opposed to models and anecdotes (pdf), found that subsidies for renewable energy projects cost 2.2 jobs for each “green” job created.


Karen Street said…
Why is nuclear power cheaper than wind in most places if there are fewer jobs created? Yes, wind requires more stuff/kWh, concrete, steel, etc, but aren't they manufactured? Where is the money going, if not to labor?
Anonymous said…
If NEI and the industry's frequently and publicly stated position is that ALL non-carbon-emitting options, including renewables, are needed for the US energy future, why do you keep posting articles bashing renewables?
David Bradish said…
Karen, the money for wind is mostly going to capital costs to construct and start up the sticks.

Anon, how am I bashing renewables? I'm merely pointing to a study about Spain's renewable industry situation. Is the study wrong? If so, then how?

Yes, NEI says all options are needed, but not all options are equal nor provide the same benefits. So what's the problem with showing how nuclear and renewables are different from each other?
crf said…
The Spanish study about green jobs cited by the Heritage foundation has been criticised. As a warning about the effects of subsidies (the feed-in tariff rate and the differences in subsidies based on plant size), it is good reading. As an inspiration for further study, it is good. But the number: 2.2 jobs lost for every job created as a result of subsidy, is not a conclusion that you'd wish to support from the study's design. (If you google it: you'll find that conclusion of the study is very controversial.)

The study is also written in unscientific language. The author is a well known supporter of the libertarian right, in Spain, and is a denier of climate science, for what that is worth.

Why is it a good thing for the NEI to argue that Nuclear Energy provides more jobs per installed megawatt capacity (near-term construction jobs), compared to other sources of electricity? Wouldn't there happy medium? For instance, if the initial labour costs of wind are over 5 times lower per unit of delivered electricity (since they need 5 times fewer jobs to deliver the same amount of electric capacity), then nuclear must be able to make up the large difference in labour costs per unit from within its non-labour costs, or have its labour costs decrease dramatically over time, compared to wind.

Anyway, have you any information about not just near-term jobs per megawatt installed capacity of wind, nuclear (etc), but jobs per megawatt per stimulus dollar spent?
David Bradish said…
crf, thanks for the useful insights. I have a couple of answers to your questions.

Why is it a good thing for the NEI to argue that Nuclear Energy provides more jobs per installed megawatt capacity (near-term construction jobs), compared to other sources of electricity?The numbers stated by our CEO are actually the number of jobs needed to operate the facilities, not to construct them.

From my perspective, I wouldn't say we are arguing that nuclear energy provides more jobs, I would say we're just presenting the facts.

have you any information about not just near-term jobs per megawatt installed capacity of wind, nuclear (etc), but jobs per megawatt per stimulus dollar spent?Unfortunately, I have not seen anything like that yet, maybe others have if they'd like to chime in. If you give it a year or two after the economy starts coming back and the stimulus dollars are being spent, I bet we'll start seeing the numbers you're asking about presented in various studies.
David Bradish said…
Karen, Jerome a Paris just published an informative post on the costs of wind that may answer some of your questions.
perdajz said…
The Heritage foundation has got it right here. Only a Luddite thinks that the technology that "creates the most jobs" is the best one. You can always create jobs, so to speak, by banning or taxing the efficient technology, and demanding (by fiat) or subsidizing the inefficient one. This is exactly what "renewable" (whatever that means) standards are supposed to do.

The economic benefits of nuclear power do not stem from the number of jobs the nuclear fuel cycle creates directly. The benefits stem from a steady, reliable and relatively inexpensive supply of electricity, as well as the inestimable external costs averted by splitting uranium rather than burning fossil fuels.
Jan van Beilen said…
This simplistic spanish study says that renewable energy jobs cost twice as much as "other jobs" (Euro 571,000 vs Euro 259,000). By that account nuclear energy is a lot worse: 500 jobs created per 1000 MW plant, which costs around Euro 5,000,000,000, makes Euro 10,000,000 per nuclear job.
So, a nuclear job costs about 20 renewable energy jobs, or 40 "regular economy jobs.

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