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News Release: NREL's Economic Benefit to Colorado totals $831.3 Million in FY 2011

Jan. 18, 2012

The net economic benefit of the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory to Colorado’s economy grew to $831.3 million in fiscal year 2011, according to a study by the University of Colorado’s Leeds College of Business.

Jefferson County, where NREL’s main campus is located and where more than half of NREL’s employees call home, enjoyed the greatest economic impact, with $305 million. NREL is one of Jefferson County’s largest employers, the study says.

NREL’s economic impact grew 41 percent from FY 2009’s $588.3 million, and 12 percent from FY 2010’s $742 million, as construction continued on energy-efficient research and office buildings that will house employees leading the nation to a clean energy future.

NREL’s construction spending totaled $69 million in FY 2011 – up from $26.7 million two years previous. That translated to hundreds of new jobs for construction workers, who have been hit particularly hard by the national economic downturn.

While the average total compensation for NREL employees fell about $4,000 in FY 2011, total full-time equivalent employment grew from 2,027 in FY 2010, to 2,131.

Total employment – direct, indirect and induced by NREL’s presence – grew from 4,729 in FY 2009 to 5,706 in FY 2010 and 6,282 in FY 2011.

Almost a third of NREL’s employees have doctorates, and another third have master’s degrees. Thirty-three percent have bachelor’s degrees and 4 percent have associate’s degrees.

NREL’s presence and the visitors and conferences it attracts are worth about $1 million a year to the accommodations and food-service industry. NREL had about 2,500 overnight visitors in FY 2011, and they averaged almost two nights stay each.

The Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC, asked the Business Research Division of the Leeds School of Business at CU to measure objectively the economic and fiscal impacts of the lab for the years 2009 to 2011. The study is online at The Alliance manages and operates NREL for the U.S. Department of Energy.

The study’s authors looked at economic benefits, public costs, capital expenditures, operating expenditures, and secondary or multiplier effects in coming up with the final numbers.

NREL is the U.S. Department of Energy's primary national laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development.

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—George Douglas