Government Bytes


President Obama is Right, We Should be More Like Spain (and Stop Funding Green Jobs)

by Nan Swift / /

For years, President Obama has been exhorting the U.S. to be more like Spain, a country heavily invested in renewable energy and green jobs.  In January, the Spanish government, drowning in debt, made an about-face on this plan.  Strangely, though we also have a serious debt problem, the Obama Administration has chosen not to follow this example and despite little success to show for such policies is insisting on spending even more.

Spain announced all the way back in January that it was no longer subsidizing renewable energy  projects, still, the Energy Department just announced yesterday that they are embarking on a new, exciting, way better than all the other plans that failed, loan program for green energy companies.

Spain’s reversal hardly came as a surprise to many, the green energy crunch has been a long time coming.  From the Institute for Energy Research yesterday:

A couple years ago, President Obama hailed Spain’s promotion of wind and solar energy through massive subsidies as a way to grow the economy and create jobs. At the time, Dr. Gabriel Calzada explained that the Spanish success was a mirage and that Spain’s “success” was actually costing jobs and creating a huge financial liability. Now, the reality of Spain’s disastrous policies is clear to the Spanish government. Hopefully, the unsustainable nature of subsidies will become clear to the promoters of wind and solar as well.

Two years ago, Investor’s Business Daily also reported on the Calzada findings, noting that a new Spanish government report had confirmed Calzada’s claims that “attempts by his country to create a green economy would fail.”  Here are some highlights:

  • The “green jobs” agenda destroys jobs
  • “For every green job created by the Spanish government…2.2 jobs were destroyed elsewhere in the economy because resources were directed politically and not rationally, as in a market economy.”
  • “The loss of jobs could be greater if you account for the amount of lost industry that moves out of the country due to higher energy prices.”
  • “Each green job [in Italy] cost 6.9 jobs in the industrial sector and 4.8 jobs across the entire economy.”
  • “The figures published by the government document indicate they arrived at a job-loss number even worse than the 2.2 figure from the independent study.”

In 2011, the American Enterprise Institute also looked at the “Spain problem.”  Not only did they look at the exorbitant costs associated with green jobs:

The study calculates that since 2000 Spain has spent €571,138 to create each “green job,” including subsidies of more than €1 million per wind industry job.

But they also point out the corruption that seems to go hand in hand with this the brave, new green economy.

An audit of solar-power generation from November 2009 to January 2010 found that some panel operators were paid for doing the “impossible”—producing electricity from sunlight during the night, El Mundo reported today, citing a letter from Secretary of State for Energy Pedro Marin.

Further, it appears that solar power producers “may have run diesel-burning generators and sold the output as solar power, which earns several times more than electricity from fossil fuels.” Nineteen people have been arrested in Spain’s “clean energy” sector on charges ranging from bribery, to unsavory land deals, to issuing licenses to friends and family, and simple construction fraud. The Guardian adds, “When Spain's National Commission for Energy decided to inspect 30 solar gardens, it found only 13 of them had been built properly and were actually dumping electricity into the network.”

There’s little point in wondering, “What took Spain so long?”  At least the political will was finally found to stop sinking funds into a worthless program and to tackle their power-system’s $31 billion in debt. Here in the U.S. in the face of repeated failure and equally failed experiments abroad, we are going to stubbornly adhere to our renewable guns. When promising to create jobs and rebuild the economy, President Obama determined that green jobs were the way to go.  Mark Steyn writes:

But not to worry. On Thursday night, the president told a Democratic fundraiser in Washington that the Pass My Jobs Bill bill would create 1.9 million new jobs. What kind of jobs are created by this kind of magical thinking? Well, they’re “green jobs” – and, if we know anything about “green jobs,” it’s that they take a lot of green. German taxpayers subsidize “green jobs” in their wind-power industry to the tune of a quarter of a million dollars per worker per year: $250,000 per “green job” would pay for a lot of real jobs, even in the European Union. Last year, it was revealed that the Spanish government paid $800,000 for every “green job” on a solar panel assembly line. I had assumed carelessly that this must be a world record in terms of taxpayer subsidy per fraudulent “green job.” But it turns out those cheapskate Spaniards with their lousy nickel-and-dime “green jobs” subsidy just weren’t thinking big. The Obama administration’s $38.6 billion “clean technology” program was supposed to “create or save” 65,000 jobs. Half the money has been spent – $17.2 billion – and we have 3,545 jobs to show for it. That works out to an impressive $4,851,904.09 per “green job.” A world record! Take that, you loser Spaniards! USA! USA!

So, based on previous form, Obama’s prediction of 1.9 million new jobs will result in the creation of 92,000 new jobs, mostly in the Federal Department of Green Jobs Grant Applications.

Outside of jobs bills or stimulus plans, the Obama Administration is equally adept (inept?) at throwing good money after bad.  Despite the repeated failures when it comes to green energy loans (Solyndra, Beacon ”Empty Shell” Power, First Solar, Ener1), the Department of Energy announced last week that it has $170 million for new loans to green energy companies. The difference this time?   

The DOE promised that it will back these new loans only after "rigorous internal and external review of each application."

I am sure this will work way better.

Maybe if President Obama knew it wasn’t just his Spanish friends that were slashing green energy funds in response to looming debt, Germany too is cutting subsidies.  Miranda Schreurs, the director of the Environmental Policy Research Center at the Free University Center of Berlin even states, “Everybody knows we can’t go the way we’ve been going.  It’ll break the bank.”

Unfortunately, rather than truly learn from Spain’s example and turn from our big spending ways as they have, we seem to be following the dead end of Greece.  Unlike Spain and Germany who have halted or cut their green-energy projects to deal with the debt crisis, Greece has pinned its hopes on renewable energy.

According to Business Green, the country has even touted an investment of €20bn in solar which is part of the government’s plan to deliver 100 percent of its energy needs through renewable sources by 2050.

PM Lucas Papademos, who recently spoke at a renewable energy and infrastructure development summit in Athens, said that investment in green energy was a “national priority” to boost economic growth. Project Helios is the Greek government’s massive initiative to ramp up solar power production from 206 MW to 2.2. GW by 2020 and up to 10 GW by 2050. The country is aiming to become the EU’s largest exporter of green energy.

This should bode well.