It's not clear why in his guest opinion "Cleaner energy generating jobs for Americans" (Nov. 24) Ben Reed felt the need to place his boot on the shoulder of a more reliable and affordable energy source — coal — to talk about the attributes of solar energy. No doubt, solar electricity and related jobs have grown with a big assist from taxpayer-funded tax credits and government mandated markets. But, if Reed's point is that the solar industry generates more jobs than the coal industry, he badly missed the mark.
To begin with, the 100,000 "solar workers" Reed pulls from the Solar Foundation study counts anyone who might have even minimal contacts with the solar industry including plumbers, roofers, lawyers and accountants. The National Mining Association data he cites actually shows that coal does not need to go as far afield to account for over 766,000 jobs created by the mining, transportation, equipment manufacturing and support services at coal mines. Even more telling is that a coal-based electricity plant generates four times more permanent jobs than a solar plant, according to the Department of Energy's data.
This is not to say that solar and wind are not useful supplemental sources of electricity. There is no reason why we cannot have coal, solar and wind electricity — indeed we need them all. But when businesses and households need electricity, they can count on coal because it is available 24/7.
Hal Quinn, president and CEO
National Mining Association
Read it here.