Solar Subsidies Fail To Create Green Jobs, Again

Posted on Thu 02/11/2010 by

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By Brandon Stewart

As we reported in today’s Morning Bell ABC News reports that despite massive amounts of stimulus funding being spent on wind farms—nearly $2 billion—the vast majority (80%) of it has been spent on overseas companies. ABC contacted Russ Choma at the Investigative Reporting Workshop who suggested that the project has resulted in nearly 6,000 jobs for overseas manufacturers and only a few hundred over here.

To add insult to injury, ABC’s Jonathan Karl reports that “a recent report by American Wind Energy Association showed a drop in U.S. wind manufacturing jobs last year.” That’s right—even with a government-subsidized demand, wind manufacturing decreased.

As Foundry readers may remember, this not the first time that China has benefited from a country deciding to waste its money subsidizing the green projects. Derek Scissors reported back in August how Chinese companies were benefiting from Germany’s decision to heavily subsidize solar power.

But protectionism isn’t the answer—the plan would be a stinker even if we managed to keep all the manufacturing inside the United States. As Nick Lorris explained last month, “green jobs” have a bad track record when it comes to creating jobs here in this country:

In Baltimore, for instance, stimulus dollars have been spent to patch roads, install newer furnaces and painting rooftops white to conserve energy. According to the Washington Post’s Alec MacGillis, none of these projects, as well as others, have created a single job. Another example is in the state of Indiana, where companies have “weatherized 82 homes out of its three-year goal of 25,000, and reported zero new jobs from the spending.”

Similar examples are legion. The point is that when and if renewable energy becomes cost-efficient, it will be adopted by private industry and wont need subsidies. Government intervention in the energy field only serves to elevate certain players—regardless of their efficiency and cost—above others. As we wrote last week:

And the reason the government has to pick winners is because the losers (coal, natural gas, and nuclear) supply electricity at a much cheaper rate. So not only do Americans have to fund the construction of windmills as taxpayers, they’ll also have to pay as energy consumers for pricier electricity. This is not creating competition; it’s market distortion.

In light of this news, the folks at the Department of Energy must be pretty embarrassed, right? Think again:

Matt Rogers, the senior adviser to the Secretary of Energy for the Recovery Act, denied there was a problem.

“The recovery act is creating jobs in the U.S. for American workers,” said Rogers, “That is what the recovery act is about, that is what it is doing. Every dollar from the recovery act is going to create jobs for the American workers here in the U.S.”

This just further highlights the disconnect between the Administration and many Americans. While this White House continues to boast about all the jobs “saved or created” by the stimulus bill, Americans continue to respond with one refrain: “Where are the jobs?” It seems that even when the evidence of the failed stimulus is in front of them, it isn’t enough to convince this Administration that they need to reevaluate their policies.

Brandon Stewart contributes posts to The Heritage Foundation at their Foundry site, where he is Digital Communications Associate, Strategic Communications.

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