(Thomas Mitchell/4TH ST8) Let’s compare and contrast.
In response to a Las Vegas Review-Journal editorial, Sen. Harry Reid has had someone on this staff pen an op-ed piece singing the praises of renewable energy projects and their economic benefits to the state of Nevada.
I recommend you read the Reid piece and compare it to my column in The Ely Times this past week and the Nevada Policy Research Institute report that was posted online the opening day of Reid’s “green” energy confab at the Bellagio and that R-J editorial. Then decide who is looking out for Nevadans.
Twice Reid boasts that Nevada has collected more than $248 million in tax revenue from clean energy projects. But he fails to mention that several of the 44 individual clean energy projects currently contracted with or in talks with NV Energy have received far more than that in grants, loan guarantees and tax credits. The parent company of a Tonopah solar power project alone received $737 million in federal loans.
For the taxpayer that is like taking money out of one pocket and putting it in another, while losing a lot of change in the process.
To explain this in a more macroeconomic sense, my column quotes a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed by economist Arthur Laffer. “For every additional government dollar spent there is an additional private dollar taken. All the stimulus to the spending recipients is matched on a dollar-for-dollar basis every minute of every day by a depressant placed on the people who pay for these transfers,” Laffer writes. “Or as a student of the dismal science might say, the total income effects of additional government spending always sum to zero.”
Actually, as Laffer later demonstrates in the same column, the sum is usually less than zero and reduces GDP.
Reid dismissed the R-J editorial and called the NPRI report “a flawed study by a Nevada conservative think tank about the economic benefits to renewable energy development” without bothering to even try to rebut a single fact, many of which can be found in his own report called “Playing to Win in Clean Energy.” He merely pontificates, “This editorial and the study do not serve Nevada’s best interests.”
While finding room to brag about a quarter of a million in tax revenue for the state and claim that “green energy” has created 3,500 jobs, if you include temporary construction jobs, Reid says nothing about NPRI’s calculations that found just 12 of those 44 renewable energy projects, those nearest to completion apparently, had received $1.3 billion in federal funds since 2009 alone and are projected to create only 288 permanent, full-time jobs — or $4.6 million per job.
Even if one were to throw in all the construction jobs, which may include projects in addition to the 12 studied by NPRI, that’s still nearly $400,000 per job, most of which have disappeared or will soon.
Neither does Reid mention that studies have found that the money spent on “green” energy jobs kills other jobs. One study estimated that a wind project in Scotland destroyed 3.7 jobs for every one created. A Spanish economist estimated that for every “green job” created by wind and solar the rest of Spain’s economy lost 2.2 jobs.
While Reid mentions “the lowest-cost mix of renewable energy resources” being made available by a $550 million transmission line connecting northern and southern Nevada, he makes no mention of the fact that the lowest-cost renewable energy is still two to four times as expensive as power generated by gas- or coal-fired power plants.
The higher cost of power will drive up power bills and force households and businesses to cut expenses elsewhere, which inexorably leads to fewer jobs.
Like he did at his “green energy” conference Reid throws out a lot of numbers but fails to do the math. For example, at the so-called clean energy summit Reid bragged that solar panels on Nellis Air Force Base save the Air Force $1 million per year. He neglected to say the panels cost $100 million and will last no more than 30 years.