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Electric vehicles: ‘Economic revolution’ or ‘net job losers’

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(The Center Square) – North Carolina leads the nation in clean energy private-sector investments since passage of the $740 billion Inflation Reduction Act, according to a new report by a national nonpartisan, nonprofit group.

“I truly believe we are on an advent of an economic revolution the likes of which we haven’t seen in generations,” Bob Keefe, executive director of the group E2 told The Center Square as the University of North Carolina’s 10th annual Cleantech Summit began Thursday morning. “North Carolina is leading the country in total private-sector investments.”

Since passage of the bill in 2022, $10.1 billion in clean energy projects have been announced in North Carolina in electric vehicle manufacturing, electricity transmission and distribution and battery storage, the group said.

The nine projects in North Carolina tracked by the group account for almost 30,000 jobs, 24,600 during the construction process and 5,400 permanent jobs when those projects are complete, the report said.

“What we were trying to find out with this new study is, ‘What is the secondary economic impact of these investments?’” Keefe said. ”Obviously, when Toyota builds a battery factory in Liberty, they hire construction workers and those construction workers have to eat. What do they spend in local restaurants. They need a place to live. What does it mean to the local real estate company?”

When those factors are taken into account, “the number of jobs created is actually eight-fold what the initial jobs were,” Keefe said. “These investments are literally changing the landscape of places like North Carolina.”

The tax incentives in the Inflation Reduction Act were a catalyst for the private-sector investment, E2 communications director Michael Timberlake told The Center Square.

The state of North Carolina and local governments have also provided financial incentives, noted Jon Sanders, director of the John Locke Foundation’s Center for Food, Power and Life.

“The governor has pledged an incredible amount of state funding for three or four decades to build EV plants and battery plants,” he told The Center Square. “This is all government driven.”

At the same time, the market for electric vehicles seems to be hitting the brakes, Sanders said.

“You have to start from the perspective that this is not something the market wants, so we have to use the force of government to make it happen,” he said.

Studies on the benefits of clean-energy investments typically don’t examine how many jobs will be lost by the massive tax increases that will be necessary to pay for the clean-energy incentives, Sanders said.

“It’s all a shell game,” he said. “They look at one side of the ledger and say they have created this amazing Shangri-la of EVs. If they looked at both sides of the ledger, economic research is clear that these government incentives are net job losers.”

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