American Elephants

The Green Jobs Myth, and Clean Green Energy is a Myth As Well. by The Elephant's Child
February 26, 2010, 9:02 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Energy, Progressivism | Tags: , ,

In spite of the hoopla of the Blair House theater summit yesterday, the American people keep trying to remind the President and Congress that health care ranks pretty far down on their list.  They are much more concerned about the economy and unemployment.

“Green jobs” remain a central pillar of the Obama administration’s policy to promote clean energy.  New jobless claims were up by 22,000 this week, over last week.  But how does the administration’s claim stand up? The facts challenge policymakers’ wishful thinking.

The Obama administration has allocated more than $4 billion in funding from the Stimulus bill to the “smart grid,” for its job-creation potential.  Much of this is to be spent installing close to 20 million “smart meters” over the next five years.

Smart meters are digital versions of the spinning electric meter on every house.  Spinning meters haven’t changed in the last century, and must be read by workers.  Smart meters automatically transmit consumption data for electricity to a utility.  By essentially eliminating human intervention, smart meters promise more accurate usage measurement as well as efficient management of energy production resources.

Farewell to meter-readers.

It takes one worker today roughly 15 minutes to read a single meter. So in a day, a meter reader can scan about 30 meters, or about 700 meters a month. Meters are typically read once a month, making it the base period to calculate meter-reading jobs. Reading a million meters every month engages about 1,400 personnel. In five years, 20 million manually read meters are expected to disappear, taking with them some  28,000 meter-reading jobs.

Nearly 40 million smart meters have been installed worldwide, mostly in Europe.  The jobs created in this industry can be broadly classified into four categories: installation, manufacturing, research and development and information technology services.

It takes two certified electricians about 30 minutes to replace a spinning meter.  About 5,000 a year, for 400 installation jobs or 1,600 jobs over 5 years to install 20 million meters.

Manufacturing is highly automated, and mostly accomplished overseas, with American jobs only in the hundreds.  In R&D and IT services, the number of jobs created is forecast to be in the hundreds or low thousands.

So smart metering will result in net job destruction.  The “clean energy” jobs from wind and solar, in Spain resulted in a loss of 2.5 jobs in the private sector for every “green job.” Electric vehicles are a promising green sector, but the technology is not yet there, and jobs would simply be cannibalized from gasoline powered cars.

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