Cost of $10 Billion Stimulus Easier to Tally than New Jobs
February 28, 2012
Companies have received more than $10 billion to create jobs and renewable energy by building wind farms, solar projects and other alternatives to oil and natural gas under section 1603 of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The program expired in December, and President Barack Obama proposed last week that Congress revive it in the 2013 budget, says the Wall Street Journal.
- 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 was an important part of the government's push to encourage investment in alternative energy.
- It gave $10.7 billion to 5,098 businesses for 31,540 projects, according to the Treasury Department.
- Recipients were generally reimbursed 30 percent 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. For example:
- About 40 percent 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.
The American Wind Energy Association lobbied successfully in late 2010 to extend the 1603 program through 2011, predicting it would create thousands of jobs. Wind companies wound up with more than $7 billion of the 1603 money, yet industry payrolls declined to 75,000 last year from a peak of 85,000 in 2009, according to the association.
Source: Ianthe Jeanne Dugan and Justin Scheck, "Cost of $10 Billion Stimulus Easier to Tally than New Jobs," Wall Street Journal, February 24, 2012.
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