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Census Bureau Economic Data Show Electric Power Generation Using Renewable Energy Growing

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Census Bureau Economic Data Show Electric Power Generation Using Renewable Energy Growing

Press Release Number CB14-204

Economic Census Statistics Now Available for the First Time on Wind, Geothermal, Biomass and Solar Electric Power Generation

Revenues for electric power generation industries that use renewable energy resources rose 49.0 percent from $6.6 billion in 2007 to $9.8 billion in 2012, according to new economic census statistics released today by the U.S. Census Bureau. These industries that use renewable energy resources consist of hydroelectric power generation (NAICS 221111), four newly delineated industries — wind (NAICS 221115), geothermal (NAICS 221116), biomass (NAICS 221117) and solar electric power generation (NAICS 221114) — and one newly defined category of other electric power generation (NAICS 221118). 

In the 2007 Economic Census, wind, geothermal, biomass, and solar electric power generation were included in the broad “other electric power generation” industry (NAICS 221119). By the 2012 Economic Census, these industries had been broken out separately, with the “other electric power generation” industry limited to only tidal electric power generation and other electric power generation facilities not elsewhere classified. Among the newly delineated industries (wind, geothermal, biomass, solar and other electric power generation), the number of establishments more than doubled in five years, from 312 in 2007 to 697 in 2012.

“As industries evolve, so does the Census Bureau to continue to collect relevant data that informs America’s business decisions,” Census Bureau Director John H. Thompson said. “Industries that use renewable energy resources are still relatively small, but they are rapidly growing.”

These industries are part of the electric power generation industry (NAICS 22111), which saw an overall decline of 1.2 percent in revenues from $121.0 billion to $119.5 billion between 2007 and 2012. The overall decline was driven by the fossil fuel electric power generation industry (NAICS 221112), which saw revenues decrease from $85.4 billion to $79.7 billion, or 6.7 percent, during the same five-year period.

Revenues for the wind electric power generation industry totaled $5.0 billion in 2012, the highest revenues among the industries using renewable energy resources. Hydroelectric power generation followed with revenues of $2.4 billion. Geothermal electric power generation had revenues of just under $1 billion ($995.4 million), followed by biomass electric power generation, with $934.6 million in revenues, solar electric power generation, with $472.4 million, and other electric power generation, with $59.0 million.

Together, these industries were a relatively small portion of the electric power generation industry, collectively accounting for just 8.2 percent ($9.8 billion) of total industry revenues in 2012. Fossil fuel and nuclear electric power generation (NAICS 221113) are still the major revenue sources of the electric power generation industry, comprising 66.7 percent ($79.7 billion) and 25.1 percent ($29.9 billion), respectively, of total revenues.

Other highlights on the electric power generation industry include:

  • Employment for the electric power generation industry rose 15.8 percent from 122,793 in 2007 to 142,240 in 2012. This trend was driven mostly by the increase in employment in the nuclear electric power generation industry, which rose 39.3 percent from 37,972 in 2007 to 52,906 in 2012.
  • Nuclear electric and geothermal electric power generation establishments reported the highest average annual payroll per employee in 2012 ($111,468 and $101,100, respectively) for the electric power generation industry.
  • Among the industries using renewable energy, wind electric power generation was the top employer in 2012, with 5,456 employees.
  • Fossil fuel electric power generation employs the most people for the electric power generation industry, with 75,668 employees.

These results are part of the 2012 Economic Census Industry Series, which publishes national statistics for detailed industries as well as information on the product lines sold by or services provided by businesses. These data are collected for establishments, which are typically single physical locations of a business that produce or distribute goods or perform services, and can be accessed via American FactFinder.

About the Economic Census

The U.S. Census Bureau conducts an economic census every five years and provides a comprehensive and detailed profile of the U.S. economy, covering millions of businesses representing more than 1,000 industries and providing unique portraits of American industries and local communities.

Economic census statistics will be released over a two-year period, through June 2016. Statistics at the local level, including information for more than 5,000 communities not available from previous economic censuses, will be available starting in February 2015. About 40 billion cells of data on U.S. businesses with paid employees will be released in total. Separate statistics for 2012 on the approximately 21 million businesses without paid employees are available via American FactFinder.

Reference information about the economic census, including a data release schedule, is available on the 2012 Economic Census home page.


The North American Industry Classification System is the standard used by federal statistical agencies in classifying business establishments for the purpose of collecting, analyzing and publishing statistical data related to the U.S. business economy.


The statistics presented in this release are based on data from the 2007 and 2012 economic censuses and include data only for establishments with paid employees. The 2012 Economic Census Industry Series results will be superseded in subsequent 2012 Economic Census data product releases. All dollar values are expressed in current dollars relative to each survey year, i.e., they are not adjusted for price changes. For more information about the economic census (including a data release schedule and information on comparability, confidentiality protection, sampling error, nonsampling error, and definitions), see //www.census.gov/econ/census/



Robert Bernstein
Public Information Office


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