Energy groups tout high percentages of veterans working in their industries

Source: By John Siciliano, Washington Examiner • Posted: Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Energy groups are using Veterans Day to point out the large number of veterans that work in their industries, especially in the renewable fuel and clean energy sectors.

Veterans comprise about one in 10 workers across all energy sectors, higher than the national average of 7 percent, according to the Energy Department.

The ethanol industry was quick to point out the large percentage of veterans who work in their segment of the fuel supply chain.

“Millions of Americans will pay their respects to those who have served our country in uniform and defended our freedom,” said the Renewable Fuels Association, representing the ethanol industry. “What most Americans may not know, however, is that thousands of veterans have continued to make our nation stronger and more secure by choosing careers in the ethanol industry after leaving military service.”

An Energy Department report released this year backs up the industry’s claims. The report showed that 18.9 percent of corn ethanol workers are veterans.

It’s one of the highest percentages of veterans employed by any subset of the renewable energy or fuel refining industries.

“By comparison, vets account for 10 percent of the oil and gas industry workforce, and just 7 percent of the entire U.S. labor force across all sectors of the economy,” according to the industry group.

Altogether, corn ethanol employs about 3 percent of the nation’s liquid-fuels manufacturing workforce, accounting for 28,613 jobs, according to the Energy Department.

By comparison, the petroleum sector supports about 502,000 employees, with 9.6 percent of them veterans. While that is a smaller percentage than the ethanol industry, the sector employs just above 48,000 veterans, or about 20,000 more than the corn fuels sector.

The Energy Department also showed that 11.5 percent of the wind energy industry is made up of veterans.

Tom Kiernan, the head of the American Wind Energy Association, pointed that out in defending a 2015 deal between Republicans and Democrats to maintain tax subsidies for the industry. A House tax reform bill would upend the deal.

“For a rapidly growing number of Americans, including our nation’s veterans, wind power means well-paying, stable jobs,” Kiernan said.

A Senate tax bill issued late Thursday night would keep the 2015 deal to phase out the tax credits for wind energy over five years, instead of the proposed accelerated timeframe that is in the House version of the legislation.

Meanwhile, the solar energy industry is comprised of 10.6-11.1 percent veterans, depending on the type of solar technology, according to the Energy Department. About 374,000 employees are employed by solar firms, both full-time and part-time, with just over 260,000 of those employees spending the majority of their time in the solar field.

Coal power plants and coal mining jobs are made up of 5.4 and 8.8 percent veterans, respectively.

In 2016, 1.1 million employees in the energy sector, or 55 percent, worked in traditional coal, oil, and natural gas industries.

Nearly 800,000 workers were employed in what the Energy Department calls “low carbon emission generation technologies,” which includes renewables, nuclear power and “advanced/low emission natural gas.”

There are 102,000 workers employed by the wind industry.