Michigan Won't Be Blown Away By Renewable Energy Jobs

Bridge magazine, the online publication of The Center for Michigan, recently posted an article about the law that imposes a renewable energy mandate on electric utilities and their customers: “Since Michigan’s energy law was adopted in 2008, billions of dollars have been spent in the state’s emerging renewable energy industry — building infrastructure, adding jobs and lowering costs.”

While “jobs” were mentioned in that first paragraph, a reader only is told 20 paragraphs later how many jobs that billions of dollars in spending — specifically, "nearly $3 billion" — is supposed to have created: 8,200.

ForTheRecord says: The utilities’ response to the renewable energy mandate has been almost exclusively to build wind turbines. The report cited by the Bridge article states there are 8,200 new jobs in the entire “renewable and alternative energy” field. That may sound like a lot, but to put the figure in perspective compare it to the ongoing “job churn” that is a regular feature of the dynamic U.S. and Michigan economies. In the fourth quarter of 2014, 220,347 jobs were created in Michigan, and another 186,360 jobs disappeared.

The total jobs in alternative energy for the entire six-year reign of the renewable energy standard amounts to just 3.7 percent of the latter figure – and every three months Michigan experiences similar numbers of jobs created and dissolved.

Also, how does adding “billions of dollars” to the cost of electricity that Michigan families and businesses purchase translate into a net increase in employment? It seems far more likely that having to pay more for power has meant fewer jobs and lower incomes than would be the case if juice were cheaper.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.