- The Washington Times - Friday, June 18, 2010


The left can’t “hide the decline” in world temperatures for much longer. Knowing public faith in global warming is on the wane, President Obama was determined to adapt his message Tuesday night. The BP oil spill is now the reason to boost the subsidies to his friends who make windmills and solar panels. Mr. Obama expressed his support for legislation that “finally makes clean energy the profitable kind of energy for America’s businesses.”

Of course, that’s because wind, solar and other inefficient forms of power generation will never be “profitable” without the hand of the federal government extracting money from the pockets of society’s productive members for redistribution to those sporting the trendy “green” label - like BP, which in recent years rebranded itself as “Beyond Petroleum.” Mr. Obama’s speech to the nation swept aside the obvious objection that such subsidies might seem irresponsible in the face of a $13.1 trillion national debt. “We can’t afford not to,” was his response.

Mr. Obama’s friends in Europe beg to differ. In the face of economic collapse, countries such as Spain, Italy and Germany are backing away from what once were the most generous green incentives on the planet. According to Platts, the energy and metals information arm of McGraw-Hill, Spain’s Photovoltaic Industry Association confirmed on Thursday that various forms of subsidies would be slashed by 30 percent to 45 percent.

This has come as unwelcome news to the companies whose survival depends on the government dime. The subsidy for solar panels is so generous that anyone installing one could collect a check for 436 euros ($540) for each megawatt of power returned to the electrical grid. Several solar farms sprang up as a result, with some even caught cheating by using generators to make “solar” energy at night.

Researchers at Universidad Rey Juan Carlos in Spain calculated that these policies created green jobs at a cost of 500,000 to 1 million euros ($619,425 to $1,238,850) each. Based on their experience, the U.S. would lose about nine jobs for every four created in the renewable sector because of the tax burden imposed on the rest of the economy.

Italy’s dream of green power also has dissolved along with the country’s solvency. The government is expected to slash its wind and solar loans program. “If the proposal is approved, I will have problems paying my employees and repaying my debts to the banks,” the chief executive of Maestrale Green Energy told Bloomberg News last week. Likewise, Germany’s feed-in tariffs may face cuts of up to 25 percent. Most of that country’s renewable firms also will need to find a new line of business.

Restoring the health of the overall economy is far more important to the overall job picture than lavishing cash on pointless, feel-good ventures. Europe is starting to learn this lesson, but it appears that Mr. Obama is only in favor of following the Europeans’ lead when the destination is bigger government.

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