Environment Forum

How many jobs does it create to screw in a lightbulb?

October 21, 2008

Change to an energy-saving lightbulb – create a job? lightbulb.jpg

Energy efficiency efforts in California over the past three decades have created or saved 1.5 million jobs and added $45 billion to payrolls in the state, according to a report from David Roland-Holst of the Center for Energy, Resources and Economic Sustainability at the University of California, Berkeley.

It comes as the Golden State is debating whether plans to radically cut carbon dioxide emissions will be a financial burden for California or spur economic growth in a state that already leads in energy efficiency.

When people save money on utility bills and buying gasoline for cars, it frees up money for buying other things from groceries to appliances to theater tickets, Roland-Holst said.

Money spent locally on hairdressers or at restaurants goes further to spur the economy than spending money on energy, which is less labor-intensive and often sends money out of state and out of the country, said Roland-Holst.

The report, called “Energy Efficiency, Innovation and Job Creation in California,” said that if California improves energy efficiency by 1 percent a year and meets proposed cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, it will create 403,000 jobs by 2020 and increase the state’s gross product by $76 billion.

California aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.

Roland-Holst based his findings on household spending on electricity since the 1970s when California got a jump on the rest of the United States setting up efficiency policies, which have cut per capita electricity use in the state 40 percent below the U.S. national average, the report said.

Photo by REUTERS/Luke MacGregor

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