U.s. electric power industry provides nation with hefty economic punch, new report shows – daily energy insider gas national average 2009

“We like to say that our industry represents the first 5 percent of the GDP because without electricity you can’t power the other 95 percent,” Tom Kuhn, president of the Edison Electric Institute (EEI), said during a conference call on Wednesday announcing the release of “Powering America: The Economic and Workforce Contributions of the U.S. Electric Power Industry.”

The analysis was conducted by Michael J. Bradley & Associates for EEI, the American Public Power Association (APPA) and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA). The report includes key findings related to the electric industry’s economic contributions, employment, infrastructure investments, workforce development, job quality and military hiring. It also features employee profiles and photos to market the various jobs in the industry.

Specifically, the electric power industry directly provides over 2.66 million jobs across the United States at investor-owned electric companies, public power utilities, electric cooperatives, independent power producers, and as contractors or in supply chain and investment jobs, the report says.

Allen explained the methodology for the report, which used official, government-collected data, as well as the Economic Modeling Specialists International (Emsi) model. The Emsi model represents the flow of money in an economy — an input/output model, Allen said, that along with jobs, earnings and sales multipliers also details the demographic and occupational components of jobs and covers more than 1,000 sectors.

And by basing the report on an economic impact study that relied on government data, researchers were able to explore the downstream impacts of a particular job in a certain industry, providing a broader economic impact analysis, Allen said.

For example, electric power industry induced jobs — which are jobs spread throughout the economy that exist because they’re a result of paycheck spending by employees and government spending to support the communities around those workers — total more than 4.4 million, the report says. Some 678,000 jobs were induced by power industry employees, nearly 960,000 by contractors and supply chain employees, and another 445,000 by the public sector. The economy-wide ripple effect induced another 2.33 million jobs, according to the report’s findings.

For instance, the report noted that significant annual investments by the electric power industry to build smarter energy infrastructure and to continue the transition to even cleaner electric generation sources are expected to exceed $100 billion annually for the next several years. Allen estimated that this level of investment could provide upwards of 1.4 million jobs.

And as the industry continues to transform and progress, Kuhn said it’s important to note that “if you look at capital expenditures, they are moving toward the distribution side of the equation with smart grids, micro-grids and charging stations, among other advances, and “a lot more jobs are being created on the distribution side” as compared to the generation side.

Over the next decade, significant numbers of engineers and technicians working in the electric power industry are expected to retire. Kuhn said the industry is preparing by working with the Center for Energy Workforce Development (CEWD) and forging partnerships with educational institutions, public workforce systems and organized labor to create long-term employment solutions for a skilled, diverse workforce.

The industry’s Troops to Energy Jobs program, which is managed by CEWD, provides military veterans with a variety of job options, many aligned with their service assignments. Kuhn said most of the industry’s best trained, most technologically skilled and knowledgeable employees are veterans.