Green energy triumph: $11,000,000.00 spent per job created
“Without much fanfare, the Department of Energy (DOE) recently updated the list of loan guarantee projects on its website,” the Institute for Energy Research noticed on Wednesday. “Unlike in 2008, when Barack Obama pledged to create 5 million jobs over 10 years by directing taxpayer funds toward renewable energy projects, there were no press conferences or stump speeches.”
Uh-oh. Why weren’t there any celebrations? President Obama loves a good celebration. Why, we just found out about the super-secret star-studded bash he held after his inauguration.
Maybe it’s because the IER divided the $26 billion spent on “green jobs” by the Energy Department since 2009, divided it by the 2,298 permanent jobs created, and came up with a cost of $11.45 million per job.
Ah, the miracle of Obamanomics! At those prices, we could easily restore the 5 million jobs blown out of the economy since 2009 by spending a mere $57 trillion.
The IER provides a list of projects, loan amounts, and jobs created. Your calculator will melt if you try to compute the per-job cost of famed boondoggles like Solyndra or Abound Soler, where the DOE handed out $535 million and $400 million respectively to create zero permanent jobs, because it turned out the companies were temporary. But don’t overlook still-functional triumphs like Granite Reliable, a wind-power company that took $168.9 million in Energy Department loan money to create 6 permanent jobs.
“As the astronomical cost of the DOE’s loan guarantee program indicates, subsidizing renewable energy is not a good deal for taxpayers,” the IER observes dryly. And that’s not the only raw deal we’re getting:
But loan guarantees are just one of the ways the federal government bankrolls risky green energy projects. Energy-related tax preferences cost taxpayers about $13.5 billion in FY 2012, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation. But solar and wind power, for which the majority of the tax preferences for renewable energy were directed,produced only 3.6 percent of the nation’s generation in 2012. In addition, the Treasury Department’s 1603 grant program, which offers cash payments to renewable energy companies, cost taxpayers $5.8 billion in 2012. Many states also subsidize green energy through tax preferences as well as requiring renewable electricity mandates that require a specified amount of electricity to be generated from qualified renewable sources like wind and solar.
Clearly, in terms of “bang for the buck,” government programs that coddle renewable energy are losers. In terms of jobs, the losers are the American workers who would otherwise be gainfully employed but for the tremendous waste of taxpayer dollars on the administration’s obsession with “green energy.” As the economy continues to suffer and dollars for federal programs get harder to come by, it is getting increasingly difficult to defend a program that costs so much and produces so little.
Just imagine what the actual market – not the imaginary green one dreamed up by Obama and his billionaire cronies, who very much appreciate your support, even if they never seem to get around to thanking you for it – could have done with all those billions! Let’s see, $26 billion in loan guarantees, plus $13.5 billion in tax preferences, plus $5.8 billion in cash grants for “renewable energy”… that’s $45.3 billion that could have been returned to the people who earned it, through pro-growth tax cuts. Would anyone like to wager that the private sector couldn’t create more than 2,298 permanent jobs with that kind of dough?
Not to mention all the marketplace confusion that could have been avoided by allowing the people who earned all that money to spend it, creating healthy and sustainable demand. Quite a few suppliers and local service companies made the mistake of thinking Solyndra was a real company, and designed long-term business plans accordingly. It’s hard to see real opportunities through all that taxpayer-subsidized static.