Proving Energy Efficiency Creates Jobs: Seeking A New Standard Method

Blog Post | January 22, 2014 - 12:48 pm
By Casey Bell, Senior Economist and Manager, Finance Policy

Proponents of energy efficiency believe that it not only saves energy and money, it creates jobs. The stronger the evidence that energy efficiency programs and polices create economic opportunity and jobs, the greater the likelihood that federal, state, and local governments will support them. Managers of existing programs use a variety of methods to monitor and evaluate their job creation impacts in order to justify and extend the investment. The problem is that we do not know the best way to verify how many jobs have been created by a particular energy efficiency policy or program. There is no one, sound, generally accepted method for verifying energy efficiency jobs creation.

The underlying economic argument for energy efficiency job creation, through both the initial investment in energy- efficient measures and through resources shifted to labor intensive sectors of the economy made possible by energy savings, is compelling. However, the lack of a standardized, generally-accepted method of verification is problematic today, with the various approaches to job creation studies creating confusion among policymakers. When we can verify and prove that job creation has occurred, we empower policymakers to continue to make funding and policy decision.

ACEEE, with the support of the Vermont Energy Investment Corporation, DC Sustainable Energy Utility, and Efficiency Vermont, is launching a project with the goal of addressing this issue. We will review existing practices for energy efficiency jobs accounting and verification by surveying and interviewing program managers across the United States. The approaches we review will include both input-output modeling of job creation impacts and various data collection efforts to provide “head counts” that verify job creation. Using the results, we will evaluate the relative effectiveness of energy efficiency jobs accounting methods based on (1) their ability to establish concrete proof of job creation, (2) their effectiveness in capturing the full range of job creation impacts including direct, indirect, and induced jobs, and (3) their ease of use and replicability. Finally, building on a foundation of best practices, we will suggest an exemplary methodology for verifying and reporting energy efficiency job creation impacts.

We anticipate releasing our results in late 2014. In the meantime, we are looking to the energy efficiency community to support this effort, and are seeking to connect with program managers who have an interest in sharing relevant information and testing our approaches. Programs interested in this effort should feel free to email me.