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Wisconsin Wit

Friday, February 12, 2010

Wisconsin legislators raise question of jobs:

(Ed.note: This is the press release of Rep. Huebsch, who along with two others has asked for more information on the Clean Energy proposaL.)

2 Billion for Green Stimulus Yields Zero Jobs

In 2008, the wind energy industry employed 85,000 American workers. After collecting nearly $2 billion of federal stimulus funding in 2009, it still provides 85,000 jobs according the America Wind Energy Association. Without taxpayer subsidies in 2008, the industry added 13,000 jobs. With the subsidies last year, the industry lost 1,500 to 2000 manufacturing jobs and replaced them with temporary construction jobs that last an average of nine months and a handful of maintenance positions.

While President Obama’s “green collar jobs” scheme has done little for our economy or the record number of Americans who are out of a work, it’s been a boon for Europe and Asia. At least 6,000 new jobs have been created overseas by foreign firms that pocketed 79% of the $2.2 billion of American taxpayer subsidies, according to the Investigative Reporting Workshop at the American University School of Communication. Foreign companies received $1.6 billion for wind projects and another $190.4 million for geothermal projects. Less than one-third of that amount found its way to domestic firms. Of the $2.2 billion spent through 2009, a total of $1.9 billion has been funneled to wind energy projects.

Of the 1,807 turbines erected on 28 wind farms receiving those stimulus funds last year, foreign-owned manufacturers built 1,219 or more than 67% of them. Using estimates from the Renewable Energy Policy Project, a think tank that advocates renewable energy technology research, those 1,219 turbines may have created as many as 6,838 jobs overseas. According to the Investigative Reporting Workshop, “the helping hand from taxpayers seems to be largely bypassing American workers.”

Senator Chuck Schumer (D-New York) told ABC News this week that “it makes people lose faith in government, and it frankly infuriates me.”

Five U.S. companies have received a only combined $290.7 million of the nearly $2 billion stimulus subsidies for wind energy projects, but the Obama Administration is still in spin mode. “Every dollar from the recovery act is going to create jobs for the American workers here in the U.S.,” said Matt Rogers, senior advisor to the Secretary of Energy for the Recovery Act.

Recognizing the futility of trying to pretend those 6,000-plus jobs exist within our borders, vice president for public policy at the American Wind Energy Association Robert Gramlich took a different tact. He said that providing subsidies for renewable energy projects “wasn’t a long-term jobs policy and it wasn’t really intended to be a long-term jobs policy.”

Taxpayers spent $1.05 billion on these renewable projects in the fiscal year that ended on September 30, 2009. Another $3.08 billion will be spent by September 30 of this year and the program is set to peak at $4.46 billion in 2011. That’s a big ask of taxpayers for a program that isn’t a “long term jobs policy” anyway when the national unemployment rate hovers at 10% and 8.4 million Americans have lost their jobs since the recession began.

President Obama promised 17,000 green jobs, primarily in the wind energy industry. Last year, 10,000 mw of new wind generation – enough to power 2.4 million homes - came on-line and taxpayers bankrolled nearly $2 billion of subsidies. We don’t have a single new job to show for it. Even worse, the president’s program is short on cash and he’s asked Congress for another $5 billion. Here’s a look at where the money’s going:

· Spain’s Iberdrola S.A. is one of the largest operators of renewable energy worldwide and has received $577 million of stimulus grants to date. It expects to collect another $430 million from the U.S. government this year.

· China’s A-power is using 450 million U.S. tax dollars to help build a wind farm in West Texas. The project has created about 300 temporary construction jobs on-site and about 2,000 manufacturing jobs – mostly in China.

· A bankrupt Australian company, Babcock and Brown, used $178 million of stimulus funds to build a Texas wind farm with 118 turbines purchased from the Japanese company Mitsubishi.

· San Diego-based wind farm developer Cannon Power Group paid German giant Siemens half of its $19.4 million stimulus grant to install 114 turbines.

· Turbine component parts are being imported from China, Germany, Spain and Brazil - even the biggest and heaviest parts like blades and steel towers.

Further subsidizing Europe’s already heavily subsidized green energy industry isn’t just creating jobs there, it’s killing jobs here. Several U.S. wind-turbine companies announced layoffs in 2009, including plants in Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Nebraska. Spanish manufacturer Gamesa, which is currently providing turbines for projects here, laid off 100 Pennsylvania workers last year. The Danish company Vestes halted production at a Colorado wind turbine blade plant last year.

A top union executive, united Steelworkers president Leo Gerard, is concerned about the trend and says the focus of policymakers should be on manufacturing and ensuring the jobs stay here. “If we keep following the trend lines of what’s existing, we’re going to end up with an inability to generate real wealth,” Gerard told the Investigative Reporting Workshop.

The push by Madison Democrats to pass Governor Doyle’s Global Warming Bill will only compound the problem. The bill requires electric consumers to pay $16.2 billion to build wind farms and meet a mandate of 25% renewable power in Wisconsin. The Doyle Administration’s own analysis indicates that only 2,000 of the 15,000 jobs the governor has promised to create are permanent. About 12,000 are temporary construction positions that will come and go over a 15-year period. The governor’s bill will do irreparable harm to Wisconsin’s economy and, based on what we’ve learned from the failed stimulus program, it will drive more manufacturing jobs to other states and, more likely, other countries.


1 comment:

  1. Anonymous7:48 AM

    Green jobs are just a big farce. Some people are going to get rich. With the tax payer paying for it. Stop Doyles green energy bill now. There is no way wind generators will produce 25% of energy by 2025. If Doyle is worried about jobs why did he buy trains from Spain. your government at work.