TODAY’S STUDY: THE ECONOMIC ADVANTAGES OF NEW ENERGY – THE NORTH CAROLINA CASE
Economic Impact Analysis of Clean Energy Development in North Carolina—2014 Update
April 2014 (RTI International for North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association)
This report presents an update to the retrospective economic impact analysis of renewable energy and energy efficiency investment included in the 2013 report, The Economic, Utility Portfolio, and Rate Impact of Clean Energy Development in North Carolina, prepared by RTI International and LaCapra Associates (2013).
In this supplement to the 2013 report, the direct and secondary effects associated with major energy efficiency initiatives and the construction, operation, and maintenance of renewable energy projects (collectively, “clean energy development”) are analyzed to measure the magnitude of clean energy development’s contribution to North Carolina’s economy.
Changes in consumer, utility, and government spending patterns are analyzed, including
investment in clean energy projects in North Carolina and their ongoing operation and maintenance,
how renewable energy generation and energy savings from energy efficiency projects have changed spending on conventional energy generation,
reductions in spending due to the utility rider renewable energy and energy efficiency performance standard, and
government spending that would have been spent on other government services in the absence of state support for clean energy investment.
Our research findings are as follows:
Approximately $2,672.5 million was invested in clean energy development in North Carolina between 2007 and 2013, which was supported, in part, by the state government at an estimated cost of $135.2 million. Clean energy projects were nearly 20 times as large as the state incentives for them.
Renewable energy project investment in 2013 was $732.4 million, or nearly 42 times the $17.5 million investment observed in 2007.
Total contribution to gross state product (GSP) was $2,971.5 million between 2007 and 2013 (see Table ES-1).
Clean energy development supported 37,100 annual full-time equivalents (FTEs) from 2007 to 2013.
Catawba, Davidson, Duplin, Person, and Robeson Counties experienced the greatest amount of investment—more than $100 million each between 2007 and 2013.
Beaufort, Cabarrus, Cleveland, Wake, and Wayne Counties each experienced between $50 million and $100 million between 2007 and 2013.
Between 2007 and 2013, annual investment in clean energy development in North Carolina increased nearly 20-fold from $44.6 million to $889.1 million, of which $732.4 million (82%) was for renewable energy projects and $156.7 million (18%) was for major energy efficiency initiatives. The total amount of energy generated or saved through renewable energy and energy efficiency programs amounted to 10.674 million MWh, which is sufficient to power nearly 985,000 homes for 1 year.
Although the growth in energy generation from renewable sources has been documented in annual energy reports, the economic impact of clean energy development—economic activity from construction, operation, maintenance, changes in energy use, and consequent changes in spending—on North Carolina’s economy had not been comprehensively measured until the 2013 report, The Economic, Utility Portfolio, and Rate Impact of Clean Energy Development in North Carolina, prepared by RTI International and LaCapra Associates (2013)…
Economic Impacts, 2007–2013
From 2007 through 2013, $2,056.0 million was spent on construction and installation of renewable energy projects in North Carolina. An additional $616.5 million was spent on implementing energy efficiency programs.4 Total clean energy development was valued at $2,672.5 million.
Although investment was distributed across the state, Catawba, Davidson, Duplin, Person, and Robeson Counties each experienced the greatest amount, with more than $100 million in renewable energy project investment each.
Clean energy development contributed $2,971.5 million in GSP and supported 37,100 annual FTEs statewide. As a result of changes in economic activity from the development of clean energy in North Carolina, state and local governments realized tax revenue of $232.0 million.
Estimated Direct Impacts Of Clean Energy Development
As depicted in Figure 2-1 and Table 2-1, investment in clean energy development increased substantially over the 7-year analysis period. For example, renewable energy project investment in 2013 was $732.4 million, which was about 42 times the size of 2007’s $17.5 million. In 2013 alone, clean energy investment was 33% of the total investment from 2007 to 2013.
In addition to demonstrating growth in investment value over time, Figure 2-1 and Table 2-1 illustrate that clean energy projects were nearly 20 times as large as the state incentives for them. Although we do not attempt to statistically estimate the share of these investments that was motivated by these incentive programs, it is likely that there is a strong positive relationship…
Investment Value of Clean Energy Projects
Renewable energy investment was estimated primarily from facilities registered with NC-RETS, supplemented with data from EIA databases—EIA-860 and EIA-923; North Carolina’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources; NCUC dockets for individual projects; NC Green Power; and personal communication with industry experts to adjust reported data or address areas where information was incomplete. Investments in energy efficiency were taken from program reports submitted by utilities to the NCUC and annual reports of the Utility Savings Initiative…
Table 2-2 summarizes the cumulative direct spending in renewable energy by category between 2007 and 2013. Investment in renewable energy projects totaled $2,056.0 million. Investment in energy efficiency totaled $616.5 million. Thus, total clean energy investment was $2,672.5 million during the study period.
Of the $2,056.0 million investment in renewable energy projects,
solar photovoltaics made up $1,619.7 million (79%),
biomass made up $122.7 million (6%), and
landfill gas made up $144.6 million (7%).
Renewable energy projects are widely distributed across North Carolina, bringing investment to both urban and rural counties. Figure 2-2 illustrates the geographic distribution of renewable energy projects individually valued at $1 million or greater. Including all eligible wind, landfill gas, biomass, hydroelectric, solar photovoltaics, and solar thermal projects valued over $1 million accounts for renewable project investment of approximately $1,816.4 million (88% of the total $2,056.0 million in renewable investment over the period).
Catawba, Davidson, Duplin, Person, and Robeson Counties each experienced more than $100 million in renewable energy project investment from 2007 through 2013, and Beaufort, Cabarrus, Cleveland, Wake, and Wayne Counties each experienced between $50 million and $100 million in renewable project investment.
In preparing last year’s Economic, Utility Portfolio, and Rate Impact of Clean Energy Development in North Carolina Final Report, RTI interviewed contacts from clean energy businesses who noted that jobs were often created in rural counties that had been hard hit by contraction in the construction industry.
Energy Generated or Saved from Clean Energy Projects Tables 2-3 and 2-4 summarize the energy generated by renewable projects and the energy saved by energy efficiency projects between 2007 and 2013.
Renewable energy facilities generated 6.8 million MWh of energy, of which
72% was biomass,
14% was landfill gas, and
10% was solar photovoltaics.
Efficiency initiatives also produced large savings in North Carolina. Energy efficiency programs run by utility companies saved 3.836 million MWh of energy during the study period. The Utility Savings Initiative, a government-run energy efficiency program, lacked data on specific MWh saved, but the program documents note savings of $559.7 million on energy expenses.
Thus, total energy generated or saved from clean energy projects is estimated to amount to at least 10.7 million MWh.
State Incentives for Clean Energy Investment State incentives for clean energy investment, including the renewable energy investment tax credit and state appropriations for the Utility Savings Initiative, are modeled as a reduction in spending on other government services.
Investment spending was funded, in part, through state incentives. Through direct state government appropriation, renewable energy projects received $122.6 million in tax credits and energy efficiency projects received $12.6 million. Total government expenditures were $135.2 million between 2007 and 2013 (Table 2-5).
For the purpose of this study, it was assumed that the money the government spent on renewable energy and energy efficiency was not spent on other government services. Thus, the government programs contributed to the positive investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency of $2,672.5 million.
However, the $135.2 million spent on renewable energy and energy efficiency was shifted from what the government could have otherwise spent the money on, creating a minor offset that reduces gross impacts slightly…
Secondary Impacts of Clean Energy Development…Changes in North Carolina Spending Patterns from Renewable Energy Generation…Changes in North Carolina Spending Patterns from Energy Efficiency Initiatives…North Carolina Economy-Wide Impacts…Impacts Associated with Renewable Energy Projects…Impacts Associated with Major Energy Efficiency Initiatives…
Total Impact Associated with Clean Energy Projects
For 2007 through 2013 the total economic activity associated with renewable energy projects and energy efficiency initiatives was (Table 2-8):
$4,710.8 million in gross output (revenue),
$2,971.5 million in GSP (value-added),
37,100 FTEs, and
$232.0 million in state and local tax revenues.
These results account for a comparatively small offset associated with government spending changes because the tax credit and appropriations for the Utility Savings Initiative caused an estimated loss in output of $109.5 million. It should be noted that these losses are due to a reduction of government spending and not from any assumed issues with governmental involvement in the energy sector.
In Table 2-8, the fiscal impact analysis shows that state and local governments realized revenue of $232.0 million as a result of gross changes in economic activity…