The Spanish Experiment

One thing that I absolutely love about our federalist system is our ability to experiment with different policies and learn from the experiences of other jurisdictions.  Laboratories of democracy and all that.  But, ding, ding, ding, here’s a case where we don’t even have to put one of our precious states on the line- Spain has already done the hard work for us. 

March 27 (Bloomberg) — Subsidizing renewable energy in the U.S. may destroy two jobs for every one created if Spain’s experience with windmills and solar farms is any guide.

For every new position that depends on energy price supports, at least 2.2 jobs in other industries will disappear, according to a study from King Juan Carlos University in Madrid.

U.S. President Barack Obama’s 2010 budget proposal contains about $20 billion in tax incentives for clean-energy programs. In Spain, where wind turbines provided 11 percent of power demand last year, generators earn rates as much as 11 times more for renewable energy compared with burning fossil fuels.

The premiums paid for solar, biomass, wave and wind power – – which are charged to consumers in their bills — translated into a $774,000 cost for each Spanish “green job” created since 2000, said Gabriel Calzada, an economics professor at the university and author of the report.

“The loss of jobs could be greater if you account for the amount of lost industry that moves out of the country due to higher energy prices,” he said in an interview.

Spain’s Acerinox SA, the nation’s largest stainless-steel producer, blamed domestic energy costs for deciding to expand in South Africa and the U.S., according to the study.

“Microsoft and Google moved their servers up to the Canadian border because they benefited from cheaper energy there,” said the professor of applied environmental economics.

“May destroy two jobs for every one created.”  Wow.  Now, here’s the important question: Can we learn from Spain’s mistakes? 

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