Green dreams of jobs bonanza dashed in California

Want a definition of a green boondoggle? This incredible report by the Associated Press tracking the three year program to tax corporations and give the money to schools for green energy projects - a ballot measure that promosed tens of thousands of new jobs - shows the total, abject failure of another green energy project.

Three years after California voters passed a ballot measure to raise taxes on corporations and generate clean energy jobs by funding energy-efficiency projects in schools, barely one-tenth of the promised jobs have been created, and the state has no comprehensive list to show how much work has been done or how much energy has been saved.

Money is trickling in at a slower-than-anticipated rate, and more than half of the $297 million given to schools so far has gone to consultants and energy auditors. The board created to oversee the project and submit annual progress reports to the Legislature has never met, according to a review by The Associated Press.

Voters in 2012 approved the Clean Energy Jobs Act by a large margin, closing a tax loophole for multistate corporations. The Legislature decided to send half the money to fund clean energy projects in schools, promising to generate more than 11,000 jobs each year.

Instead, only 1,700 jobs have been created in three years, raising concerns about whether the money is accomplishing what voters were promised.

I love the way AP tries to understate the disaster.

"Accountability boards that are rubber stamps are fairly common, but accountability boards that don't meet at all are a big problem," said Douglas Johnson, a state government expert at Claremont McKenna College in Southern California.

The State Energy Commission, which oversees Proposition 39 spending, could not provide any data about completed projects or calculate energy savings because schools are not required to report the results for up to 15 months after completion, spokeswoman Amber Beck said.

Still, she said she believes the program is on track.

Not enough data has been collected for the nine-member oversight board of professors, engineers and climate experts to meet, she said.

The AP's review of state and local records found that not one project for which the state allocated $12.6 million has been completed in the Los Angeles Unified School District, which has nearly 1,000 schools. Two schools were scheduled this summer to receive lighting retrofits and heating and cooling upgrades, but no construction work has been done on either site, LAUSD spokeswoman Barbara Jones said.

Why does anyone still believe that these green projects are going to be our economic salvation? The evidence is absolutely overwhelming that energy savings are vastly overstated and the projects themselves vastly oversold. 

There is nothing wrong with solar, wind, geothermal or any other renewable energy - as long as the government doesn't get in the business of picking winners and losers. All of these energy sources are still significantly more expensive than fossil fuels and need subsidies from government to survive. These boondoggles that promise vast energy savings and huge job numbers are akin to what carnival hucksters are selling - smoke and mirrors and bearded ladies.

The illusion is far prettier than the reality. 

Want a definition of a green boondoggle? This incredible report by the Associated Press tracking the three year program to tax corporations and give the money to schools for green energy projects - a ballot measure that promosed tens of thousands of new jobs - shows the total, abject failure of another green energy project.

Three years after California voters passed a ballot measure to raise taxes on corporations and generate clean energy jobs by funding energy-efficiency projects in schools, barely one-tenth of the promised jobs have been created, and the state has no comprehensive list to show how much work has been done or how much energy has been saved.

Money is trickling in at a slower-than-anticipated rate, and more than half of the $297 million given to schools so far has gone to consultants and energy auditors. The board created to oversee the project and submit annual progress reports to the Legislature has never met, according to a review by The Associated Press.

Voters in 2012 approved the Clean Energy Jobs Act by a large margin, closing a tax loophole for multistate corporations. The Legislature decided to send half the money to fund clean energy projects in schools, promising to generate more than 11,000 jobs each year.

Instead, only 1,700 jobs have been created in three years, raising concerns about whether the money is accomplishing what voters were promised.

I love the way AP tries to understate the disaster.

"Accountability boards that are rubber stamps are fairly common, but accountability boards that don't meet at all are a big problem," said Douglas Johnson, a state government expert at Claremont McKenna College in Southern California.

The State Energy Commission, which oversees Proposition 39 spending, could not provide any data about completed projects or calculate energy savings because schools are not required to report the results for up to 15 months after completion, spokeswoman Amber Beck said.

Still, she said she believes the program is on track.

Not enough data has been collected for the nine-member oversight board of professors, engineers and climate experts to meet, she said.

The AP's review of state and local records found that not one project for which the state allocated $12.6 million has been completed in the Los Angeles Unified School District, which has nearly 1,000 schools. Two schools were scheduled this summer to receive lighting retrofits and heating and cooling upgrades, but no construction work has been done on either site, LAUSD spokeswoman Barbara Jones said.

Why does anyone still believe that these green projects are going to be our economic salvation? The evidence is absolutely overwhelming that energy savings are vastly overstated and the projects themselves vastly oversold. 

There is nothing wrong with solar, wind, geothermal or any other renewable energy - as long as the government doesn't get in the business of picking winners and losers. All of these energy sources are still significantly more expensive than fossil fuels and need subsidies from government to survive. These boondoggles that promise vast energy savings and huge job numbers are akin to what carnival hucksters are selling - smoke and mirrors and bearded ladies.

The illusion is far prettier than the reality.