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

The Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colorado, issued a study on Friday estimating the economic impact of investments that received federal support through the Treasury Department’s 1603 grant program. 

The Section 1603 program was created under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to support the deployment of renewable energy resources. The 1603 program offered project developers the option to select a one-time cash payment in lieu of taking the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) or the Production Tax Credit (PTC), for which they would have otherwise been eligible.   
The NREL study makes clear that projects receiving payments from the 1603 program have supported tens of thousands of jobs while also diversifying our energy economy. In fact, the program’s primary goal was to jumpstart private financing for renewable energy projects. From both perspectives, the program has been a huge success. 

NREL’s analysis estimates that up to 75,000 direct and indirect jobs and up to $44 billion in total economic output were supported by the design, manufacturing, construction, and installation of solar photovoltaic (PV) and wind projects funded by the 1603 Treasury grant program. In addition, the study estimates that the operation and maintenance of these solar and wind facilities will continue to sustain up to $1.8 billion per year in economic output over the lifetime of the facilities (20 – 30 years).  

When it comes to expanding domestic energy production, the 23,000 PV and large wind projects funded by the program between 2009 and late 2011 that the NREL study examined added 13.5 gigawatts of renewable energy to America’s electricity generation capacity – enough to power 3.4 million U.S. homes – and attracted more than $20 billion in direct investment from private, regional, and state sources, in addition to the approximately $9 billion in federal funds under the 1603 program. NREL’s analysis also estimated that economy-wide, these projects supported up to $44 billion in total economic output. 

In fact, 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. Furthermore, it 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, ensuring we do not cede the industries or the jobs of the 21st century to countries like China. And it 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. 

Above is a table that summarizes some of NREL’s key findings on jobs, earnings, and economic impacts under the program. The full report is available here