A Sempra Energy plan to move green energy production to Mexico would result in the loss of about 15,000 jobs in the United States and cost governments at the local, state and federal levels nearly $300 million in tax revenue, according to a University of Utah study highlighted recently on the California Labor Federation’s Labor Edge blog. The study, by economics professor Peter Philips, determined that about 90 percent of the job losses would happen in Imperial County, where the unemployment rate stood at 27.7 percent in May.
Sempra is seeking a Presidential Permit from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to construct a cross-border transmission line between Mexico and California. This line, called the Energia Sierra Juarez, will allow 1,250 megawatts (MW) of electricity to be imported into California from proposed wind farms in Mexico. The decision will be made later this year by DOE Secretary Steven Chu, and many workers, unions and citizens have been calling on Chu to deny the proposal.
“This flawed proposal to import energy instead of building projects here undermines President Obama’s vision to create jobs. It is the wrong direction at a time when we should be building green energy projects in the state to put Californians back to work,” said Bob Balgenorth, president of the California State Building and Trades Council.
For its part, Sempra told San Diego radio station KPBS that it has already created 1,000 alternative-energy jobs in the United States, and that in the first phase of the proposed cross-border project, “300 construction and operations jobs will be created on ‘both sides of the border.'”