Obama’s Green Jobs Program Is a Bust

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Aug. 17, 2011 (LPAC)–While Obama will reportedly announce a jobs program after returning from his vacation in September, the following two stories are indicative of what Obama can be expected to deliver.

Last year, Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn announced that the city had won a $20 million federal grant to invest in weatherization. The goals were creating 2,000 living-wage jobs in Seattle and retrofitting 2,000 homes in poorer neighborhoods.

But more than a year later, as of last week only three homes had been retrofitted and just 14 new jobs created by the program. And many of the 14 jobs are administrative. Of the 337 homeowners who had applied for the program, 14 had gotten a loan or were in the process of getting one.

This week, Evergreen Solar Inc., once a darling of the U.S. solar industry, filed for bankruptcy protection. The average price of solar modules has fallen 30% this year after declining steeply last year. Earlier this year, Evergreen closed its Massachusetts factory, a $450 million facility that opened in 2007 with support from state and local subsidies and employed about 800 workers. What happened?

Evergreen began to manufacture panels in Wuhan, China, last year. Other U.S.-based solar companies have already moved their production overseas: Sun Power Corp. to the Philippines, First Solar Inc. to Malaysia. In its Chapter 11 filing, Evergreen cited the difficulty in competing against Chinese solar companies and blamed reductions in European subsidies for solar installations.

The company plans to close its facility in Midland, Michigan, in the near future. It also plans to lay off 83 workers in Massachusetts and Michigan, retaining 50 employees to help with the bankruptcy and reorganization. The company plans to reorganize operations with an emphasis on building up its China- based manufacturing facility.

Said one wag, globalization fosters sunshine patriots.

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