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$10 Billion in “Green” Corporate Welfare: Less Jobs and More Bankruptcies

Saturday February 25th, 2012   •   Posted by David Theroux at 7:22pm PST   •  

In “Cost of $10 Billion Stimulus Easier to Tally Than New Jobs” in the Wall Street Journal, Ianthe Jeanne Dugan and Justin Scheck report that the mega-billions in corporate-welfare subsidies to solar, wind, geothermal and other “green” businesses (under section 1603 of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009) have resulted in far less jobs than claimed. Instead, bankruptcies of existing firms have increased and “alternative” energy firms have proven unsustainable without continued bailouts.

On federal applications, companies said they created more than 100,000 direct jobs at 1603-funded projects. But a Wall Street Journal investigation found evidence of far fewer. Some plants laid off workers. Others closed. . . .

The 1603 program gave $10.7 billion to 5,098 businesses for 31,540 projects, according to the Treasury Department. Recipients were generally reimbursed 30% of their costs after projects were finished.

Those businesses claimed on federal applications that they created 102,883 jobs directly. But the Journal found evidence of far fewer.

About 40% of the funding, $4.3 billion, went to 36 wind farms. During the peak of construction, they employed an average of 200 workers apiece—a total of roughly 7,200 jobs.

Now, those projects employ about 300 people, according to the companies and economic development officials. Their parent companies employ many more, both in the U.S. and abroad. . . .

Jobs figures reported by grant recipients were full of errors, the Congressional Research Service said in a report last year: “Thus it is recommended that any job creation estimate be viewed with skepticism. . . .

Energy companies and trade groups last year spent $14 million lobbying for 1603 and other programs, with many citing jobs. . . .

Grant rules require that for five years recipients annually report the number of employees and amount of power produced. Even if a project stops producing power—or employing workers—for long stretches, owners can keep the money unless they convert their facility to a use other than power production or stop trying to get the plant working within five years of receiving the grant. . . .”

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February 2012