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States ranking high in attracting renewable energy jobs have given billions of dollars in incentives to companies that manufacture products such as electric vehicles and their batteries.
The companies and experts say grants, tax breaks and other subsidies are top factors considered by companies in deciding where to locate.
The states have also adopted other policies aimed at attracting green jobs.
By one count, U.S. companies have announced 142,000 renewable energy jobs since the climate change-focused Inflation Reduction Act became law in August.
Georgia, Kansas, Michigan and New York are leading in renewable energy job creation, according to Climate Power, a liberal media operation founded by the League of Conservation Voters, Center for American Progress Action Fund and the Sierra Club.
They represent a mix of red, blue and swing states, but they have one thing in common: Each has offered incentives worth hundreds of millions of dollars to attract companies making clean-energy products.
Although the incentives are substantial, the states have also adopted other policies aimed at attracting green jobs.
"Subsidies and incentives are important, of course," said Bob Keefe, executive director of E2, a group of business leaders that advocates for policies promoting the economy and environment. "These states are smart to use them to attract jobs that pay better than most and are on the leading edge of the biggest economic revolution we’ve seen in generations."
Here’s a look at the four states listed by Climate Power as landing commitments for the most renewable energy jobs since President Joe Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act, which includes clean-energy tax credits to boost investment in solar, wind, hydropower and other renewable energy.
Since August 2022, Georgia added 12,888 renewable energy jobs; Kansas added 20,600; Michigan 13,702; and New York 13,355, by Climate Power’s count.
Led by Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, Georgia has committed billions in property tax breaks, grants, worker training and tax credits in its aim to become an EV and battery manufacturing hub — something the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported is "a priority among state leaders."
The subsidies included $358 million in state and local incentives to FREYR Battery, a Norwegian developer of battery cell production capacity. FREYR said in November it plans to invest $2.57 billion at a manufacturing facility outside of Atlanta, creating 723 new jobs over the next seven years. The state provided $228 million in property tax breaks over 20 years.
Georgia officials have said that landing FREYR was important because it was a new type of renewable energy employer, and that having it would attract related businesses, such as companies that produce battery parts.
Landing large companies also draws their suppliers to locate in Georgia, Keefe said.
FREYR said workforce was the most important factor in choosing Georgia, but incentives "of course play an important role."
Engineering professor Timothy Lieuwen, executive director of Georgia Tech’s Strategic Energy Institute, said incentives signal to companies that Georgia has prioritized renewable energy jobs. But, he said, companies also value factors such as a skilled workforce and transportation hubs.
"This is not a race to the bottom, where whoever gives out the biggest tax breaks gets the company," he said. "There’s a much broader ecosystem that companies like this are looking for."
Georgia has landed renewable energy jobs because for 10 years, it has made those jobs a priority by working with its technical college system to encourage research helpful to such companies and to offer programs that train workers, Lieuwen said.
Panasonic Energy Co. in November started construction on a $4 billion electric vehicle battery manufacturing facility in southwestern Kansas. It’s expected to create up to 4,000 jobs.
(Climate Power credited Kansas with 20,600 new jobs, though 16,500 of them are temporary construction jobs for the Panasonic project.)
The state called the Panasonic facility the largest economic development project in Kansas history.
Kansas’ $1.27 billion in state and local subsidies for Panasonic — primarily tax credits — were awarded with no job-creation requirements, according to Good Jobs First, a Washington D.C.-based research and policy group that monitors corporate tax breaks.
Such subsidies, the group said, "amount to states taking credit for good news that is already unfolding," because demand is already high for products such as electric vehicles.
Patrick Lowry, Kansas Commerce Department spokesperson, said the $829 million in state incentives for Panasonic — the largest of which is a $500 million tax credit for investments — will be paid only after Panasonic makes investments and hires workers. The plant offers a "jumpstart for Kansas to establish an entirely new industry in the state," he said.
Kansas promotes payments, tax credits, tax exemptions and other incentives it offers for renewables. It has also set a statewide goal for electric utilities to generate or purchase 20% of peak demand power from renewable sources and has created a public-private coalition to pursue federal funding for hydrogen energy production.
In October, Michigan-based Our Next Energy announced that it would invest $1.6 billion and create 2,112 jobs at a battery manufacturing plant outside of Detroit. The state provided a $200 million grant.
The same month, the state highlighted incentives in announcing that Fremont, California-based Gotion Inc. planned to spend $2.36 billion and create 2,350 jobs at a battery component manufacturing complex in western Michigan. The state provided $715 million in grants.
Both sets of grants were awarded through a program created in 2021 to promote economic development. In both projects, the state said the incentives were needed for Michigan to compete with other states.
The Clean Jobs Midwest group credited a Michigan state government initiative, the MI Healthy Climate Plan, with setting policies that help attract renewable energy jobs. One goal of the plan is to build enough infrastructure to support 2 million electric vehicles on Michigan roads by 2030.
The World Resources Institute, an environmental group, released a report May 4 urging Michigan to offer more economic incentives in order to be a leader in the manufacturing of electric vehicles and EV batteries. Among the recommendations: incentives that encourage companies to remain in Michigan and require them to invest in the state’s education and workforce training systems.
John Laitner, who describes himself as a progressive energy and resource economist in Tucson, Arizona, said that in the long run, incentives such as funding for workforce training are more effective than tax breaks for both companies and states.
"We need to think more about investment than spending," he said.
Idaho-based Micron Technology announced in October that it plans to invest up to $100 billion in central New York to manufacture microchips for EVs and other technologies.
The state gave $5.5 billion in tax credits, which "are critical to support hiring and capital investment," the company said.
The incentives are tied to the company making the investment and creating 9,000 new jobs, the state said.
The incentives were based on a 2022 New York law that makes chip companies eligible for job tax credits of up to $500 million per year for up to 20 years for each plant they build in the state.
Justin Henry, spokesperson for Democratic New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, said the incentive package also requires Micron to follow New York law to submit a plan, approved by the state, that mitigates the project's greenhouse gas emissions.
Greg LeRoy, executive director of Good Jobs First, said that besides subsidies, "New York has been intentional about converting to renewables for a long time."
He cited state programs such as "green career" job training. For example, the Center for Energy Efficiency and Building Science provides energy efficiency training for contractors, remodelers and students.
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