From the West Salem, Wisconsin Coulee News:
Published – Thursday, February 18, 2010
By MIKE HUEBSCH
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 2,000 manufacturing jobs and replaced them with temporary construction jobs that last an average of nine months and a handful of maintenance positions.
None of that has stopped Madison Democrats from pushing Gov. Jim Doyle’s Global Warming Bill as a way to create Wisconsin jobs. The bill requires electric consumers to pay $16.2 billion to build wind farms and meet a mandate of 25 percent renewable power in Wisconsin.
The Doyle Administration’s own analysis indicates that only 2,000 of the 15,000 jobs promised by the governor are permanent. About 12,000 are temporary construction positions that will come and go over a 15-year period. The only independent cost-benefit analysis completed to date estimates that 43,000 existing jobs will be lost if the bill becomes law.
While President Obama’s “green collar jobs” scheme has done little for our economy or the record number of Americans 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 percent of the $2.2 billion of American taxpayer subsidies, according to the Investigative Reporting Workshop at the American University School of Communication.
Of the $2.2 billion spent through 2009, a total of $1.9 billion has been funneled to wind energy projects. Foreign companies received $1.6 billion to build wind farms while five U.S. companies received a combined $290.7 million.
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.
President Obama promised 17,000 green jobs, primarily in the wind energy industry. Last year, 10,000 megawatts of new wind generation came online — enough to power 2.4 million homes — and taxpayers bankrolled nearly $2 billion of subsidies. We don’t have a single new job to show for it.
The American Wind Energy Association now says that providing subsidies for renewable energy projects was never a long-term jobs policy.
U.S. taxpayers spent $1.05 billion on renewable energy projects in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, 2009. Another $3.08 billion will be spent by Sept. 30 of this year, and the program is set to peak at $4.46 billion in 2011. That’s a big thing to ask of taxpayers for a program that isn’t a long-term jobs policy when the national unemployment rate hovers at 10 percent and 8.4 million Americans have lost their jobs since the recession began.
Doyle’s bill will do irreparable harm to Wisconsin’s economy and, based on what we’ve learned from Obama’s failed stimulus program, it will drive manufacturing jobs to other states and, more likely, other countries. We don’t need a year of watching jobs leave Wisconsin to know that the governor’s bill was never really a long-term jobs policy.
State Rep. Mike Huebsch, R-West Salem, represents the 94th District in the Wisconsin Assembly.