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Yesterday, the Senate cleared the way for the Obama administration’s War on Coal with the failure of Senator Inhofe’s resolution to stop the EPA’s Utility MACT. Rather than promote the fossil fuels that provide affordable and reliable energy for Americans, the Obama administration is pushing renewable energy that is far more expensive and unable to replace the nation’s abundant energy resources. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which began in 2009 and ran until 2011, opened the federal checkbook for renewable energy firms. This Act—which has yet to be reinstated by Congress—is has done little to make renewable energy a viable alternative for the American public, nor has it sparked an employment boom in America’s energy markets.
Starting in 2009, a $9 billion dollar ‘stimulus’ grant was earmarked for solar and wind power companies. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 also included a grants program from the Treasury Department for alternative energy. This program essentially gave renewable energy companies a one-time cash payment to eliminate their need for tax equity partners. The government stepped in with this grant because of the lack of interest by the private sector for investments in renewable energy companies. The government allows renewable energy companies to obtain up to 30 percent of the cost associated with start-up in tax credits. Many companies are unable to receive these tax breaks, because they are too small. They then look to big corporations to become tax-equity partners with. After the financial crisis, these practices of tax-equity partnerships have become scarce. After the government handed Solyndra $527 million dollars and they still failed, many corporations have become very hesitant to make such a risky investment. As presidential candidate Romney stated, “When the government chooses to put in $500 million, who wants to put $2 million in some idea from this person in Montana?”
We know $527 million of the $9 billion dollars of taxpayer money for this ‘economic stimulus’ was wasted since Solyndra ended up as a failure, but what about the rest of the stimulus money, was it successful?, Sadly, for taxpayers, no. A report issued by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (EREL) followed the grants and their achievments.
The $9 billion dollars was given to nearly 23,000 photovoltaic (the method used to convert solar power into electricity)and wind projects. The EREL report found that in the long-run, there would only be a total of 5,510 “indirect and direct” jobs created. These jobs are jobs that would be sustained for the lifetime of the company. These 5,510 jobs equates to costing the American taxpayer about $1.63 million per job from the “economic stimulus” to bolster up the renewable energy sector.
Taxpayer money well spent? Debatable. In comparison, the Coal industry—the target of Obama’s energy war—employs 550,000 hardworking Americans. Coal is also far more affordable for the American population in comparison to renewable resources. The IEA’s (International Energy Agency) statistics have shown coal-based electricity to be more reliable in price and obtainability. On average IEA studies found wind energy to cost anywhere between $50 and $156 per MWh, solar at $226-$2,031MWh, whereas coal electricity cost fall between $56 and $82 per MWh. The cost associated with starting up and switching electricity generation are often forgotten, but extremely important.