Contrary to the implication of Post story Oct. 3, NREL and green energy industries are, in fact, creating jobs

A Denver Post editorial today made connections between NREL and the Colorado economy that Post reporters and editors should pin up somewhere on the news side of the operation.

The editorial commented on General Electric’s announcement this week that it will be building a $300 million solar-panel manufacturing plant in Aurora, which will create 355 jobs right off the bat and could employ double that number.

Here’s part of what The Post had to say:

What makes it even sweeter is that the thin-film technology that will be used in the plant was developed in Golden, at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, an economic engine in its own right, and PrimeStar Solar, an Arvada-based company.

With these developments, the state continues to make a name for itself in the green energy business.

How does do you square this with the following hype found not in an opinion piece but the opening paragraph of an Oct. 3 Post news story:

In both a symbolic and real-world blow to green energy development and the jobs renewable industries are meant to create, the National Renewable Energy Lab in Golden announced significant job cuts today.

Meant to create? The implication there is that green energy development isn’t really creating jobs. It’s just meant to.

That’s not true, especially when it comes to NREL, as this week’s announcement from GE makes clear.

NREL’s announcement of 100-150 layoffs is a setback in terms of the jobs the organization is maintaining itself and creating. The cause has less to do with the economics of green energy than with partisan politics in Washington. Ask Rep. Doug Lamborn, who briefly joined the GOP hit squad to zero out NREL funding.

But Republican attacks and anecdotes like Solyndra aside, data show that the the green energy economy is a solid jobs creator, especially in Colorado.

As a summary of a Headwaters Economics report cited today by The Post argues:

Using a conservative measurement of green jobs, the report—Clean Energy Leadership in the Rockies: Competitive Positioning in the Emerging Green Economy—found that employment in the green economy has grown significantly faster than total employment.  In New Mexico, for example, the number of overall jobs in 2007 was 13 percent greater than in 1995, compared to 62 percent growth in the green jobs sector.  Looking at the five-state region, from 1995 to 2007 total job growth was 19 percent, while job growth in the core green economy was 30 percent.  Nationwide, overall jobs grew by 10 percent, compared to green job growth of 18 percent from 1995 to 2007. Colorado’s green economy leads the region with the most clean energy-related jobs (in number and as a percent) as well as green business establishments. In 2007 the five states supported 3,567 green enterprises with 50 percent based in Colorado, 16 percent in Utah and in New Mexico, 11 percent in Montana, and 6 percent in Wyoming.

I can understand the temptation of The Post’s reporter Oct. 3 to inflate bad news about NREL job losses to create an interesting, but false, link to a narrative in the national press  about specific green energy investments not producing the number of jobs expected.

But, please, when it comes to NREL, stick to the facts.

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