June 9, 2009

Green Energy Act could create 90,000 jobs in Ontario

Jim Harris

By: Jordana Levine

The Green Energy Act (GEA) could employ over 90,000 Ontarians in green jobs. The government of Ontario is prepared to initiate the GEA, which focuses on the possibilities for employment if a large investment is made in green practices.  Along with increasing employment opportunities, the program could have a huge positive impact on the environment.

The main goals of the GEA are to ensure that Ontario is the country’s leading green economy, create over 50,000 green collar jobs, and generate billions of dollars worth of economic activity as quickly as possible – ideally in three years.  The plan involves phasing out the province’s coal plants by 2014 and shifting the province’s economy so that it is based on energy efficiency and renewable energy sources.

Building the Green Economy: Employment Effects of Green Energy Investments for Ontario is a report done by the Political Economy Research Institute, which gives recommendations and ideas regarding the GEA.  The report identifies two levels of investment that would help the GEA.  The first program is the baseline Integrated Power System Plan (IPSP), which would invest $18.6 billion over the next ten years in: conservation and demand management, hydroelectric power, on-shore wind energy, bioenergy, waste energy recycling and solar power.

However, the report also looks at an enhanced green investment program, which is referred to as the Green Energy Act Alliance (GEAA) plan.  The GEAA plan would involve spending $47.1 billion over ten years and would do everything the baseline IPSP would do, plus it would invest in off-shore wind energy and a smart grid electrical transmission system for Ontario.

Although the baseline IPSP would generate 35,000 jobs, the expanded GEAA program would create 90,000 jobs for Ontarians.  The occupations created would range from construction workers to financial auditors and engineers to research scientists.  For the most part, wages would exceed $20 per hour.

Three types of employment effects would come out of these programs: direct, indirect and induced effects.  The direct effects would be the jobs created within Ontario by the environmentally related activities, such as conservation, hydroelectricity and solar power.  The indirect effects involve jobs associated with these green industries that provide goods and services for the green investment activities, like hardware and metals.  Induced effects would be the employment that is created when the people who are paid via green investment projects spend the money they earn on other products and services within the province.

The baseline IPSP would lead to 15,500 direct jobs, 11,600 indirect, and 8,100 induced, while the expanded GEAA program would create 38,400 direct, 31,100 indirect and 20,900 induced jobs.

The IPSP would create nearly 12,000 MW of new electricity or conservation capacity; the expanded GEAA program would produce over 22,000, though.  In March 2009, the Ontario Power Authority operated with about 27,000 MW of electricity-generating capacity.  This means that the $47.1 billion investment program could either replace or expand capacity by 82 percent in the province (and the IPSP by 44 percent), leading to higher efficiency and a huge increase in renewable energy levels.

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