Department of Energy Grid Study Confirms Need for Baseload Power Plants

August 24, 2017



Tom Owens



Department of Energy Grid Study Confirms Need for Baseload Power Plants

 WASHINGTON, DC – Over the last decade, the members of North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU) have seen power sector jobs disappear.  Valuable baseload power plants – including nuclear and coal plants – are scheduled to be, or already have been, retired at an alarming rate.  The onslaught of environmental and regulatory burdens, coupled with increased mandates and incentives bestowed upon less reliable sources of power generation, have made it cost prohibitive for plants to run.  As a result, they are now closing in increased numbers, and those jobs are being lost.

Ironically, past administrations made headlines by touting the growth of jobs in wind and solar, without ever mentioning that the average wage for a solar installer today is roughly $14 an hour.  Sadly, no one talked about the $75,000 a year power plant job that was being lost, along with critically important health and pension benefits.  Additionally, green energy advocates ignore the adverse impacts on domestic baseload power plants’ supply chain, and the negative impacts to local businesses and communities when those middle class jobs disappear.

The Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station is a case in point.  Schedule to close in 2019, it will result in the loss of nearly 600 important jobs, and an annual payroll of $77 million, including benefits.  Further, some 500 jobs in local businesses that sell goods and services to the Pilgrim plant and its employees will be put at risk, as will some $10 million in property taxes — about 7 percent of Plymouth’s levy — and $300,000 a year that the plant contributes to local nonprofits, according to a recent economic effects study.

It is widely-accepted that for every one power plant job lost, four indirect jobs will follow. And that is why NABTU is encouraged the federal government is finally realizing, and acknowledging, the importance of baseload power to not only workers, but to the reliability and the resiliency of our power grid.

The release of the Department of Energy’s Grid Study confirms what NABTU and its members have known for years – if you close a baseload plant – jobs are lost and grid reliability is jeopardized.

“DOE’s Grid Study should be viewed as a wake-up call to all Americans,” commented Sean McGarvey, President of NABTU. “Every day our hardworking members apply their professional skills to build, maintain and operate our nation’s grid and power houses. We work to ensure that when Americans flip the switch in their homes, the lights will come on.  This report demonstrates the need for a continued embrace of an ‘all of the above’ strategy to ensure affordable and reliable electrical power for American consumers and businesses.  NABTU stands ready to work with the DOE as they undertake the difficult role of ensuring America has reliable power for decades to come.”

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North America’s Building Trades Unions is an alliance of 14 national and international unions in the building and construction industry that collectively represent over 3 million skilled craft professionals in the United States and Canada. Each year, our unions and our signatory contractor partners invest over $1 billion in private sector money to fund and operate over 1,900 apprenticeship training and education facilities across North America that produce the safest, most highly trained and productive skilled craft workers found anywhere in the world.