Friday, August 10, 2012

Collapsing Windmills

I saw the following in an interesting article about the ongoing struggles with those who go through the job training programs finding work.

What caught my eye, was a side discussion about how the wind-power industry has been faring.

The key here is not arguing what the potential of wind power, or other renewable sources, but what is actually happening.  Note, even if you want to have the economic where withal in the right place and the right time to make that happen.  We may be the greatest county in the world and all that, but we don't seem to be building many windmills.

U.S Faces Uphill Battle in Retraining the Jobless
Ianthe Jeanne Dugan, Wall Street Journal, 31 July 2012

Through one Recovery Act program, Congress allocated $500 million to states to train workers for jobs in renewable energy and energy efficiency.

"We put an emphasis on green energy in the Recovery Act," says the Labor Department's Ms. Oates. "We let people apply for what that meant in their areas—some wind, some solar, some energy efficiency, some natural gas"...
Greg Matlock, 39, who lost his job as manager of a wood pellet and gas stove manufacturer near Spokane, Wash., turned to wind energy, he says, because the government predicted a booming market. He attended a six-month program at a technical school, learning electrical skills, hydraulics, computer programming and federal safety regulations. In late 2010, he received a certificate in wind energy.
The wind industry has lost 10,000 jobs since 2009, according to the American Wind Energy Association, because of uncertainty over federal subsidies and other factors. Mr. Matlock says he was offered a wind job that paid less than his previous $55,000 salary, and it was in Colorado. He took a job closer to home earning more money, $80,000, as a manager of a plant that makes newsprint.
A federally funded green-energy training program aimed to land some 80,000 workers in such jobs. Through the end of March, 25,212 trainees had landed new jobs, including more than 14,500 unemployed people, the Labor Department says.
After Joseph Quiroz, 38, lost his job at a cement factory near San Bernardino, Calif., in 2010, he went to a job fair where he picked up a flier raving about the demand for "building analysts"—people who inspect homes and businesses for energy efficiency.
California in 2011 launched a program, with the help of federal funding, to subsidize energy-efficiency upgrades for homes. The state aimed to get homeowners to retrofit 130,000 homes by the end of 2012, which would require thousands of new contractors and building analysts.
Mr. Quiroz was put on a waiting list for several months before a spot opened up for a three-week course at a community college—paid for with federal funds. By the time he was certified last year, the market was glutted with nearly 3,000 analysts. Homeowners, meanwhile, are on track to retrofit less than 10,000 homes by the end of this year, state officials say, a fraction of the 130,000 originally expected.


PioneerPreppy said...

It never fails. Make a move and by the time you jump through all the hoops the market is flooded.

russell1200 said...

PP: I have always wondered about all the people piling into healthcare. Seems like an awfully unstable regulatory environment to be banking my long term future on.

Oddly enough, the people that retrained as construction workers did reasonably well.

Ragnar said...

This should not have been unexpected since the entire large scale wind power industry existed solely because of government subsidies and tax incentives. It is like training people to build and service electric cars. Until the base product is cost effective, there will not be a significant demand for more workers because there won't be a demand for the product. And that little bit of common sense is so far beyond our government and educational systems that it is one more proof that our current society is doomed.

russell1200 said...

R: Yes, a huge amount of our “advances” during the carbon fueled age of prosperity did not have to pay their own way. They were subzidezed by speculative bubbles (railroads, commercial aviation, broadband telecom), or by the government (same list –LOL). We fuss at the Chinese for their humongous dam, but that is how it gets done. You throw so much money and government muscle at the problem that you just steamroll the problems.

If your surplus is dwindling, it is of course harder to do that. But it is going to be a lot harder down the road.