Impact on Economy and USA
The Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound blasted the findings of a recent study which repeats the myth that offshore wind contributes to lower electric rates.
"Nothing could be further from the truth," said Audra Parker, president and CEO of Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound. "To repeatedly mislead already overburdened electric ratepayers with the myth of cheap offshore wind is worse than disingenuous; it's a deliberate attempt to hide the true cost to consumers of Cape Wind."
Despite the Obama administration's efforts to create jobs making wind turbines in America, some companies say that sluggish demand for wind energy is holding them back. ...About half the wind turbines installed in the U.S. were made overseas.
A check with some of the companies that want to get into the wind manufacturing business found that even some that qualified for clean-energy manufacturing tax credits aren't able to create jobs quickly because they don't see enough demand for wind energy.
America's wind energy industry enjoyed a banner year in 2009, thanks largely to tax credits and other incentives packed into the $787-billion economic stimulus bill.
But even though a record 10,000 megawatts of new generating capacity came on line, few jobs were created overall and wind power manufacturing employment, in particular, fell.
Electricity from wind farms off the Maine coast is likely to cost more than what customers now pay, experts say, and a power purchase deal for a proposed offshore wind project in Rhode Island is raising questions about how much.
A major selling point for the green jobs movement has been the near guarantee that renewable energy and green tech sector jobs will be tied to U.S. soil -- wind farm technicians and solar panel installers in China or India can't service turbines in Iowa and roofs in California.
The resulting theology of the green energy movement is that investments in alternative energy will yield millions of new U.S. jobs that cannot be shipped overseas.
But Sen. Charles Schumer's, D-N.Y., recent irritation over a proposed Texas wind project eligible to receive hundreds of millions of dollars in stimulus funding has shown just how erroneous this thinking is.
While Massachusetts recipients of federal stimulus money collectively report 12,374 jobs saved or created, a Globe review shows that number is wildly exaggerated. Organizations that received stimulus money miscounted jobs, filed erroneous figures, or claimed jobs for work that has not yet started.
The Globe's finding is based on the federal government's just-released accounts of stimulus spending at the end of October. ...But in interviews with recipients, the Globe found that several openly acknowledged creating far fewer jobs than they have been credited for.
This may be a better time than ever for renewable energy. The climate for passing laws that would create subsidies for it are promising: last year, the Production Tax Credit for wind power was extended, along with a hefty longterm-Investment tax credit for solar power. ...But Bruno Mejean isn't feeling the winds of change just yet. The managing director and deputy general manager of Nord/LB, New York, a German financial institution, ...anticipates obstacles for the wind-energy sector in particular, and the biggest drag on developing renewable-energy projects, he says, is the prospect of a longterm low price for natural gas.
This economy, proponents say, promises to rebuild communities abandoned by bankrupt manufacturers, restore jobs lost by the busted housing market and reinstate America as a global leader.
Not so fast.
Although Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says renewable energy has the potential to create "tens of thousands of jobs" in Nevada and more than a million nationwide, little research has been done on actual job creation in such an unchartered area.
As Congress prepares to tackle global warming, Americans are nervously fingering their pocketbooks.
Projected cost increases associated with a proposed cap-and-trade program have ranged from $175 a household in 2020, calculated by the Congressional Budget Office, to an annual average of $2,979 in Heritage Foundation estimates.
With credit costlier and harder to come by, and oil and natural gas prices down sharply over the past year, the nation's nascent wind industry may begin to focus on smaller projects that are closer to major population centers rather than massive developments like 81-year-old Pickens envisioned, industry officials said.
"You've got an industry that is kind of hanging on by its fingernails," said Denise Bode, chief executive of the American Wind Energy Association.
"New wind-farm activity has slowed as developers, wind-turbine equipment manufacturers and their financing sources are waiting to see what government benefits can be expected," CEO and Chairman Zsolt Rumy said in a statement. "Although project cancellations are very uncommon, a number of them are on hold until the economic uncertainties are cleared up."
U.S. President Barack Obama, whose administration has made clean energy a top priority, told reporters the bill "ushers in a critical transition to a clean energy economy..." But opponents say it will amount to a heavy tax on industry that will put people out of work.
Over time, the cap becomes more stringent to reduce carbon emissions, causing the cost of permits to surge and forcing factories to relocate to Asia, critics said.
Building transmission lines would cost as much as $4 billion a year, and managing its variability would add further to its price, the Pew Center said in a report today. Prices would still be competitive with other energy sources if the U.S. approves legislation to limit greenhouse gases, the group said.
A growing number of advocates, among them Governor Corzine and President Obama, believe that energy efficiency and renewable energy could not only help the environment but replace jobs lost in the recession.
Critics, however, say that's an expensive and unproven way to create jobs that will destroy jobs in other sectors, and in many cases will be little more than putting a green veneer on existing trades.
"If you spend a billion dollars, sure you will create jobs," said William T. Bogart, an economic professor and dean of York College of Pennsylvania. "The question is, on net, how many?
The U.S. government is committing billions of dollars to support renewable energy such as wind- and solar-power plants. Some say it should use more of that financial clout to encourage less energy consumption in the first place.
Advocates of conservation, including businesses that help homeowners and companies save energy, think there should be more subsidies and tax incentives for basics like insulation and window shading, and for newer, more costly products like light-emitting-diode lamps and building-automation systems.
Massive investment in renewable energy could ultimately create 4 million manufacturing jobs. But for the workers in the bottom rung of this movement, the shift to green jobs could very well mean a pay cut of nearly 60%, a trend spreading across the entire manufacturing sector.
Feeling the heat
June 2, 2009
by Fiona Harvey, Chris Bryant, and Kathrin Hille
in Financial Times
Nobuo Tanaka, executive director of the International Energy Agency, says it is "inevitable" that the manufacturing of renewable energy components - mainly solar modules and wind turbines - will move to China and, to a lesser extent, India. "The PV cells made there are not of as high a quality yet [as those made in Europe] but they will get there."
This view is echoed by George Frampton, former chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality and a member of the Obama campaign's transition team. He says: "There is a very strong momentum. And it's not just because of the cost, it's also that I'm not that optimistic that this market is going to boom in the US."
Blumenfeld isn't the only one feeling the pinch of the recession's credit crunch. Despite the Obama administration's spotlight on renewables and $54 billion in clean energy incentives packaged into the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, startup renewable energy companies are struggling to get new projects off the ground.
Jeff Dalebroux, a Chicago-based finance attorney who works with infrastructure and project finance at Dykema Gosset PLLC, said the problem stems from a host of issues.
[Dalton Utilities president and CEO Don Cope] said he had listened last week to a presentation by the Edison Electric Institute, an organization that all of the large, shareholder-owned utilities belong to, on the possibility of legislation capping carbon emissions produced by fossil fuels such as coal and oil.
"Their estimate is that it will cost the average household in the United States between $3,000 and $6,000 per year," he said.
Clean energy has a dirty secret.
It isn't cheap.
Consumers already are starting to feel at least a modest pinch in their electric bills. The impact is expected to grow in the next few years as utilities accelerate their investments to meet state quotas requiring a portion of clean energy in their generation mix.