Oregon: A Green Jobs Laboratory

Proponents of green jobs in the state of Oregon have been touting its successes, claiming the creation of “thousands of jobs”.  Borrowing from the narrative bellowing out of the White House, the Oregonian green jobs proponents claim tremendous job growth in a state mired in stubbornly high unemployment and awash in green energy subsidies.  The plain truth is that the spigot of subsidies to this green industry is rapidly flowing, with indiscernible results in economic growth or job creation.

Recently, the Oregonian conducted a study intended to scrutinize whether these green jobs initiatives were as successful as green jobs supporters have ascertained.  In state-based subsidies alone (federal government contributes as well), the cost of the creation of each individual green job fluctuated, as Oregonlive.com shows:

     “The subsidized cost of each job varies dramatically. For example, Horizon Wind Energy received $11 million in tax credits for an eastern Oregon wind farm that, after construction, created 36 full-time maintenance and operation jobs. Solaicx, a Portland solar manufacturer, got $9 million in tax credits and employs 127 full-time staff.”

Very simply, each individual green job created at Horizon Wind Energy cost the Oregon taxpayer over $305,000.  In comparison, the White House’s 2009 “stimulus” legislation, with its illusory “saved or created” accounting gimmicks, cost the American taxpayer over $228,000 for each job created or saved.  Solar manufacturer Solaicx drained the Oregon taxpayer over $70,866 per capita green job.

The aggregate figures show a cloudy scenario for further green job growth in the state of Oregon.  Individual citizens and watchdog groups have become increasingly concerned with how taxpayer financing and subsidies has sky rocketed:

    “In some cases, the state has spent millions of tax dollars and gotten only a handful — or no — jobs in return because the companies didn’t perform as billed, were sold and shut down, or went bankrupt and folded. Examples include Cascade Grains, a biofuel start-up that received $12 million in state subsidies before going bankrupt and out of business, and Reklaim Technologies, which got $3.4 million in state subsidies to recycle tires into oil. After two years, the recycling plant employs eight people, according to the Port of Morrow, and has yet to deliver a marketable product.”

But in fairness, subsidizing green energy and calculating its immense meritorious benefits is a new foray for government officials.  Oregon Energy Department official Diana Enright explains in the article:

    “Yet until two years ago, the state kept no records on jobs associated with the subsidies. In 2009, the Energy Department began asking for job information on the application forms. But few applicants included the information, causing the department to rewrite the forms with more explicit directions on how to calculate job numbers, says Diana Enright, spokeswoman for the department. It’s something new to think of this as a jobs program,” Enright says. “We’re learning as we go along what questions to ask.”

This seems to be diametrically opposed to the starry eyed idealism and promises of “winning the future” through “investment”.  Oregon, a laboratory of green jobs initiatives, proves that lofty political rhetoric surrounding green jobs, does not match the results.