By Lloyd Graff
The cross currents of job growth, environmental protection, energy and raw material security for the United States make for a public policy jumble.
The Obama administration is showering incentives to build alternative energy facilities using wind and solar under the “green jobs” theme and some Republicans have joined in the chorus. The sad fact is that the subsidies usually benefit foreign manufacturing more than domestic. Bloomberg recently ran an informative piece talking about a $2.1 million subsidy for Suntech Manufacturing to build a poly-silicon solar panel plant in Goodyear, Arizona. It will employ 70 workers to assemble 30 megawatts of power. In China, Suntech plans to boost production 40 percent to 1,400 megawatts.
In Wuxi, China, where the Suntech plant is located, minimum wage is $141 per month, about 15 percent of the U.S. minimum wage.
The stimulus package contained $2.3 billion in tax credits for renewable energy manufacturers. Obama wants to expand it to $5 billion next year.
The unfortunate fact is that the big solar producers are making their stuff in China and Malaysia. It will be installed here by “green workers,” but the incentives will benefit big multinationals more than American manufacturing companies.
Question: Do big subsidies for alternative energy make sense?