Commissioner Putnam claims renewable energy subsidies create jobs…I beg to differ.
The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services released a report today claiming that the subsidies in H.B. 7117 will generate new tax revenue, put millions back in the pockets of Floridians and support 3,850 jobs over the next five years. However, reality tells a different story than the colorful image painted by this report.
Spain, which has been used as an example of renewable subsidy success by President Obama and is lauded as a renewable energy pioneer, has recently halted all renewable energy production. A 2009 study showed that Spain’s renewable energy subsidies in fact created job losses, not increases, and that for every new “green” job created by government subsidies, 2.2 jobs in other sectors were lost – this at a cost equal to approximately $746,880 per job! Based on Spain’s outcome, if the US was successful at meeting President Obama’s goal of creating 3-5 million “green” jobs, we could expect to lose 6.5-11 million jobs in return. That’s an interesting return on investment don’t you think?
In addition, a 2011 American Enterprise Institute report showed that Spain’s renewable subsidies resulted in corruption including solar energy being magically produced at night and energy sold as solar power that was actually created by diesel generators. A government inspection revealed that out of 30 solar plants only 13 were actually putting electricity onto the grid.
A German Think Tank’s analysis of Germany’s renewable energy subsidies found that each solar power job cost the taxpayers $240,000 and that the country’s renewable subsidies overall resulted in higher energy prices, lost jobs and reduced consumer purchasing power.
According to the Florida Energy Office's 2011 report, Florida has spent more than $40 million subsidizing biofuels since 2006 but we have no operational biofuel plants and are importing our ethanol from the mid-west. The US Federal government subsidized renewable energy to the tune of $14.7 billion just in 2010. However, renewable power accounts for two-percent of Florida’s electric generation and is unlikely to be competitive with traditional energy resources like natural gas or coal within generations. In 2009, Florida handed out millions in renewable technology grants, including $2.5 million to an Ohio company that has never established a Florida presence and laid off half its Ohio workforce in January, and another $2.5 million to a wind-turbine company that filed for bankruptcy last month.
All this aside the Florida legislature and Commissioner Putnam want you to believe that adding more subsidies for renewable energy will encourage renewable energy growth and bring jobs to Florida. Sorry, I’m not buying it.
Abigail MacIver is Americans for Prosperity's Director of Policy for Florida.