Coal-Fired Power Plants Deliver on Only a Fraction of Promised Jobs, New Ochs Center Report Finds

Mar 31, 2011, 12:00 ET from The Ochs Center for Metropolitan Studies

Only 56% of Jobs Were Created, and Only 27% in 4 of the 5 Counties Studied Across the Nation

Ochs Report Finds Energy Efficiency a Better Investment for Jobs

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CHATTANOOGA, Tenn., March 31, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Ochs Center for Metropolitan Studies released a new report today showing for the first time the number of jobs created by large, new coal-fired power plants falls far below the amount promised before the plants were approved.

The report found that job creation in the host counties for five of the six plants analyzed fell woefully short of initial job estimates. Overall, of the six plants studied in five counties around the country, only 56% of every 1,000 jobs promised actually materialized.  In four of the five counties, coal plant construction delivered only 27% of the jobs projected.

"Our study demonstrated that new coal-powered plants simply don't deliver on their promise of new jobs for host communities, in fact, they don't even come close," said David Eichenthal, President and CEO of The Ochs Center. "The fact that only one of the large plants built in the past five years appears to have provided the number of jobs it promised shows that communities being asked to take on the burden of hosting new coal plants need to take promises of new jobs with more than a grain of salt."  The report, which reviewed figures publicly promised by companies constructing coal plants and compared them to actual construction job creation in the county, is the first effort to measure one of the most important figures that communities rely on when deciding whether to approve new plants.

The Ochs Center analyzed the six largest new plants that became operational between 2005 and 2009. Researchers examined public data for each plant including employment data and labor retention rates for the periods before, during and after construction. Local job retention rates in each of the six counties actually declined during construction of the coal plants, suggesting that many new jobs went to workers coming from outside of the host county.

Pottawattamie County, Iowa – home of the Walter Scott 4 plant -- was the only host county that experienced an increase in construction employment that matched the predicted levels. The other plants studied, which failed to meet their predicted job creation levels, were: Oak Grove 1 and Oak Grove 2 in Robertson County, Texas, Nebraska City 2 in Otoe County, Nebraska, Cross 3 and Cross 4 in Berkeley County, South Carolina, Weston 4 in Marathon County, Wisconsin and Sandow 5 in Milam County, Texas.

There are currently 37 proposed new coal-fired power plants that are under development. Coal plant proponents frequently suggest that counties where they are built will reap an economic windfall through construction and permanent jobs. The Ochs Center report shows those promises of new construction jobs are frequently overstated.

New Website Created

The Ochs Center also unveiled a new website today,, as a one-stop resource for information about the misleading promises of construction employment made by developers of coal fired plants.

Mr. Eichenthal continued, "We think it's critical that policy makers, researchers and the public have access to all the data and information we had so they can make informed decisions about how to best meet future energy needs around the country.  Our hope is to make this website into an ongoing resource on this critical area of policy."

Ochs Report Finds Energy Efficiency a Better Investment for Jobs

Although the jobs creation argument for coal powered plants is relatively weak, investment in energy efficiency efforts offers the promise to both reduce the need for new generation capacity and create jobs. The Ochs Center conducted two prior studies that explored the relative job gains that would result from investments in energy efficiency rather than the construction of new coal fired power plants in Georgia and Kentucky. Energy efficiency was found to be a sounder investment and would result in the creation of thousands of jobs.

The full report is available here.

The Ochs Center for Metropolitan Studies, a non-profit organization, conducts independent data analysis and policy research to improve the quality of life in Chattanooga, Tennessee and metropolitan areas nationally.

SOURCE The Ochs Center for Metropolitan Studies