Investment in electricity infrastructure generates employment and economic growth

OTTAWA, Feb. 13, 2012 /CNW/ - Canada can expect employment to increase by an average of 156,000 jobs annually over the next 20 years from investment in electricity generation, transmission and distribution infrastructure. Future investment spending would also contribute about $10.9 billion per year to real gross domestic product (GDP), according to a Conference Board of Canada analysis, Shedding Light on the Economic Impact of Investing in Electricity Infrastructure.

"In addition to the contribution that the electricity industry itself brings to the economy, the direct, indirect and induced economic impact of infrastructure investment is widespread," said Pedro Antunes, Director, National and Provincial Forecast.

"Investments to upgrade, repair and expand Canada's electricity infrastructure will boost Canada's economy for years to come and create a steady stream of high paying jobs for Canadians," said newly-appointed CEA President and Chief Executive Officer, Jim Burpee.  "Because these investments are necessary, a challenge not to be overlooked is ensuring the availability of workers with the necessary skills in a very tight labour market."

The analysis estimates that cumulative public and private investment in electricity infrastructure from 2011 to 2030 will total $347 billion (in current dollars), with the majority of investment slated for generation capacity. Investment is expected to peak between 2011 and 2015. During this period, real GDP would be lifted by an average of 1.2 per cent per year, supporting an average of 247,000 jobs per year.

The increase in economic activity would provide a boost to government finances—in current dollar terms, aggregate federal and provincial government balances are forecast to improve by roughly $6 billion per year from 2011 to 2015.

A sizeable portion of the investment is estimated to be machinery and equipment, some of which is imported from outside Canada. Hence, every $100 million (inflation adjusted) invested in electricity infrastructure boosts real GDP by $85.6 million and creates roughly 1,200 person-years of employment.

Investment in electricity infrastructure would have an impact on many industries:

  • The construction industry would gain an average of $3.8 billion and 61,000 jobs per year between 2011 and 2030.
  • The manufacturing sector would enjoy a gain of $1.4 billion and over 12,000 jobs, especially the fabricated metals and electrical equipment and component manufacturing industries.
  • Service industries would grow by an average of $5.3 billion per year, due to increased demand for occupations such as architecture, engineering, and computer system design.

The study, Shedding Light on the Economic Impact of Investing in Electricity Infrastructure, was funded by the Canadian Electricity Association to assess the economic impact of potential future investment in electricity infrastructure in Canada.

Future capital investment estimates for this analysis are based on a previous Conference Board report, Canada's Electricity Infrastructure: Building a Case for Investment.

To determine the generation investments between now and 2030, a thorough search was performed to identify all generation units that are operational, under construction, planned, or proposed. Based on the estimates of retirements and refurbishments, new construction was adjusted to ensure that capacity increases aligned with future North American demand.

Transmission investment estimates were based on company and system operator long-term plans, and regulatory filings. Transmission investments identified in this report are likely to be underestimated due to a lack of information.

Estimates for investment in distribution were based on sustaining existing infrastructure and for meeting the requirements of expanding generation capacity.

Link to report:

Link to media backgrounder:


For further information:

Brent Dowdall, Media Relations
Tel.: 613- 526-3090 ext.  448

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