Jobs report ‘a bit of a stretch’

A list of renewable-energy jobs created since Gov. Bill Ritter has been in office is overinflated, at least as far as one Grand Junction company is concerned.

Ritter’s office routinely puts out a list that touts the number of renewable-energy jobs that have come to the state since he took office in 2007.

The list counts such firms as Vestas Blades that opened four plants along the Front Range to build wind turbines it sells around the nation, bringing 2,400 jobs to Colorado.

It also includes Leitner-Poma of America Inc. in Grand Junction, an international company that specializes in building cable transports, such as ski lifts. The company recently installed a first-of-its-kind, wind-powered lift at a Canada ski resort.

The number of renewable-energy jobs on the governor’s list for that company is 100, which also lists it as being in the wind-energy industry. But the actual number of jobs the company has that relates to renewable energy was less than one, said Tom Clink, sales manager of the Grand Junction office.

“If you stretched it hard, you might get a half to one man-year among all the people from down here who worked on that part of the project,” Clink said. “We’re just now getting our feet wet in that, so to say we have 100 jobs in renewable energy here in Grand Junction, that’s a bit of a stretch.”

When pointed out to Ritter’s spokesman, Evan Dreyer, he acknowledged it as a mistake that would be corrected, but he stood behind the rest of the list. That list claims that more than 17,000 renewable-energy jobs have been created in the state under Ritter’s leadership.

“My initial reaction was one of surprise at that,” he said. “That one’s probably misclassified and shouldn’t be on the list, but I’m confident this list is accurate. There’s always a risk of data being inaccurate or overstated ... but this is from a Dunn & Bradstreet report, and those are the statistics that I cite.”

Dreyer said because of Ritter and the rest of the Democratic Party, Colorado now has the fourth-highest concentration of renewable energy jobs in the nation, and more are coming.

Environment Colorado, an environmental-advocacy group that has worked closely with the Ritter administration in pushing his so-called “new energy economy,” released a report Tuesday to go along with a bill the governor is pushing through the Legislature. House Bill 1001 would increase to 30 percent the state’s renewable energy standard, the amount of electricity large utility companies are required to get from renewable sources by 2020.

The report claims the measure would create 33,325 jobs in Colorado over the next few years. The report goes on to say, however, that those are temporary construction jobs. It lists the number of permanent jobs over the next decade at only 217.


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