News Obama Admin Takes Credit for Bush Era Wind Farm Jobs

russ_watters

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When Obama first proposed the economic stimulus, I raised a BS flag here, saying that you can't just start handing out checks and bridges and roads will start being built immediately. It takes years to design a major project. Even a supposedly "shovel ready" project (one completely designed and has all the required approvals except funding) can't be mobilized instantly. It takes months to bid out and mobilize construction of a major project, even if the required materials to build it can be found sitting on store shelves (which they typically aren't).

Enter wind farms. A wind farm uses wind turbines that are complicated devices and they aren't sitting around on a shelf waiting to be shipped. I'd be surprised if it takes less than 9 months to start shipping components after they are ordered and the deposits paid (in my industry, a complicated air conditioner can take 9 months). Not that that matters too much - you probably need to push dirt around and pour concrete for months before the turbines get on site anyway.

So how do you start spending money - and a lot of it - immediately so that you can say you get an immediate benefit from an economic stimulus? The answer, apparently in many cases, is to cut stimulus checks to pay for wind farms that were bought, paid for, and completed long before the stimulus bill was passed....and still count the job creation as part of the stimulus benefit:
Out of 70 major wind farms that received the $4.4 billion in federal energy grants through the stimulus program, public records show that 11, which received a total of $600 million, erected their wind towers during the Bush administration. And a total of 19 wind farms, which received $1.3 billion, were built before any of the stimulus money was distributed.

Yet all the jobs at these wind farms are counted in the administration's figures for jobs created by the stimulus...

In western New York, for example, in the hills near the economically hard-hit cities of Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo, the Canandaigua Wind Farm could have created the sort of green-collar jobs that the Obama administration promised would be generated by the stimulus package. The feathery blades of the farm's 88 gigantic turbines reach more than 400 feet in the air. Each turbine contains 8,000 components and is almost as sophisticated as a jet engine. Hundreds of construction workers were needed to haul and erect the steel towers, each weighing hundreds of tons.

The wind farm was built in two phases. The developer, First Wind, received a total of $61.8 million in stimulus grants on Sept. 1, 2009, when the administration began rolling out money for the program. But FAA records indicate both were completed at least 15 months earlier — by May 20, 2008....

High above the rolling plains southeast of Lubbock, Texas, the 166-turbine Pyron Wind Farm represents the new wave of American wind farm development. In the heart of the country's "wind belt," it's far larger and more labor intensive than the projects in Pennsylvania and New York. German developer E.On Climate and Renewables estimated that 620 construction jobs were created, and on Sept. 22, 2009, the project received $121.9 million in stimulus money. FAA records show the last tower had been built on Dec. 11, 2008.
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/39759042/ns/business-stocks_and_economy/

Presumably, since the projects are already paid for, this money goes directly into the pockets of the developers (in some cases, foreign developers!).

This is exactly the sort of helter-skelter spend-money-so-we-can-say-we-spent-money wastefulness that I was concerned about when the stimulus was first proposed. In another context (if the government weren't doing it), this would be fraud or theft. The program is definitely an inethical and wasteful misappropriation of funding and then they did it so they could later lie about it for political gain.
 
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I don't usually agree with you, russ, but you're 100% correct here.

Though, I'd shift a little of the blame to the American public who wants to see instant results. It's no wonder our politicians lie to us... we vote them out of office if they propose reasonable long-term solutions.

(by "we," I mean the American public in general, not "we" in this thread)
 

Evo

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That's sickening. How was this allowed to happen?

Because of the way the law was written, the Section 1603 grant program has no language requiring that recipients reinvest their grant money in the United States. Rogers said he was basing his claim on the fact that many companies have reported to the administration that they reinvested their grants in future wind projects in the U.S.
 

Ivan Seeking

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When rushing to inject capital into the economy, a few screwups are bound to happen. But it is a drop in the bucket compared to the fraud we've seen in Iraq. Of course, in this case, we're trying to save our own country and not someone elses.

Let's see, taking the worst case that the money was all wasted: 1.3 of a 700 billion dollar stimulus is about a 0.2% error.

Russ, did you ever once complain about the fraud in Iraq? I don't recall that being the case so I was curious why this one bothers you so much more?
 

russ_watters

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In fairness, it is par for the course in govenment thinking, though the political gain they get from it adds another dimension not seen in other cases. Right now I (my company) am generating a lot of income on a similar program administered by the state of PA. I'm not sure which party passed the law, but essentially it works like this:

The power company wants to raise their rates. The state says ok, but in return, you have to pay your customers to impliment energy conservation measures and prove a certain amount of savings. And we'll work that into the rate increase (not sure if it is a tax or a fee). So everyone in PA is paying into a program that pays-out money to companies to impliment energy conservation measures. The idea is that if a company is willing to impliment an energy conservation retrofit with a 5 year payback but a certain one has a 5.5 year payback, this will make the difference and they'll do it. But like the stimulus, these programs don't just materialize overnight. There's two more steps I forgot in my description in the op: before you can start cutting checks, there needs to be a legislative framework (the law) and a bureacracy in place to administer the program. That can take a long time to put together.

Well in PA, the program has existed for a year and the electric companies are required by law to spend the money, but PA doesn't have the necessary bureacracy in place to administer it properly. So earlier this year, the state approved the application framework for certain types of applications and allowed companies to apply for grants for 2009 and 2010 projects (projects completed after the law was passed), just like with this wind power thing. Moving forward, the application has to be approved before the project is started. So I'm working for the energy group at a major company, working through a list of two dozen projects completed in the past year and a half (who'se funding was approved and put in place by the company as much as 2 years ago) and getting grants for them.

Oh, and the company has already taken money out of the energy group's budget for this year in an amount equal to the anticipated rebates. Reinvest the retroactive grant in more energy conservation? Nope.
 

russ_watters

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When rushing to inject capital into the economy, a few screwups are bound to happen.
This isn't a screw-up, Ivan, it was done on purpose.
Let's see, taking the worst case that the money was all wasted: 1.3 of a 700 billion dollar stimulus is about a 0.2% error.
What? Are you suggesting you think this was the only type of stimulus program that worked that way and that all of the rest of it was spent properly and accounted for properly? There have been other reports of faulty job creation reporting.
Russ, did you ever once complain about the fraud in Iraq?
Yes.
I don't recall that being the case so I was curious why this one bothers you so much more?
This bothers me more because we have complete control over it and it was done on purpose by our government.
 

arildno

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What sort of statistics are you trying to push on us, Ivan?

1.3 billion dollars out of 4.4 billion given are shown to be bogus grants.
That's close to a 29.5% error rate.
19 out of 70 projects checked are shown to have received bogus grants, that's an error rate of 27.1% percent.

Coupled to the first, that shows that bogus grants are roughly equally distributed between largescale and smallscale projects (since 29.2 is roughly the same number as 27.1).


What is required of you, Ivan, is to provide a solid argument why there should be anything special with wind farm projects, in contrast to other types of projects, to make the stats from the first so slanted, relative to the rest.

Because:
That is precisely what you are claiming by comparing 1.3 billion to the total of 700 billion in the way you do. (since you declare as "clean" the 99.8% rest of the money).

If, rather, the wind farm industry is roughly representative, we ought to expect a total of bogus grants in the order of 200 billion dollars.

Lastly, you may call these wind farm grants as a sort of random statistical fluke, but in order to do so, other samples of similar sizes ought to be provided.
 
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I don't know if I'm reading this right.

Russ Choma for MSNBC said:
The wind farm was built in two phases. The developer, First Wind, received a total of $61.8 million in stimulus grants on Sept. 1, 2009, when the administration began rolling out money for the program. But FAA records indicate both were completed at least 15 months earlier — by May 20, 2008.
They were completed earlier, but did the construction company receive payment before this? Are they accepting additional payment? Or is the stimulus being used to pay overdue bills?
 

Pythagorean

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Might as well take credit since so many people credit him with the negativesy.
 

Evo

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I'm disappointed that no one's challenged the underlying premise, that government "creating" jobs by taxing productive income and handing it out for unproductive jobs is really "creating" jobs, or any sort of economic benefit at all. True there is some revenue from wind electricity, but it is vastly outweighed by its costs, which makes this activity labor- and resource-wasting hence unproductive. Hence all the subsidies and government mandates.
 
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signerror:

The government isn't raising taxes to pay for the stimulus. They're printing money from thin air.
 

D H

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But it is a drop in the bucket compared to the fraud we've seen in Iraq.
That's a red herring.

Of course, in this case, we're trying to save our own country and not someone elses.
And that is appeal to ridicule.


Come on, Ivan. We don't accept it when our kids use the excuse "well Johnny did it, too!" That excuse certainly doesn't (or shouldn't) fly it comes to behavior by our government.
 

arildno

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Is it so hard for you publicly to admit how wrong you were, Ivanseeking?
 
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So how do you start spending money - and a lot of it - immediately so that you can say you get an immediate benefit from an economic stimulus? The answer, apparently in many cases, is to cut stimulus checks to pay for wind farms that were bought, paid for, and completed long before the stimulus bill was passed....and still count the job creation as part of the stimulus benefit.
That's exactly what happened with respect to an intersection here in town that's being turned into an overpass. It's been in the works for years, and was being funded from city dollars, but the moment they could tap stimulus money, they simply did so, saving the city funds, and erected new signs at the work sit about how it was now being paid for by the Economic Recovery Act or some such.
 
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When rushing to inject capital into the economy, a few screwups are bound to happen. But it is a drop in the bucket compared to the fraud we've seen in Iraq. Of course, in this case, we're trying to save our own country and not someone elses.

Let's see, taking the worst case that the money was all wasted: 1.3 of a 700 billion dollar stimulus is about a 0.2% error.

Russ, did you ever once complain about the fraud in Iraq? I don't recall that being the case so I was curious why this one bothers you so much more?
Ahhh, that's CLASSIC! Please note, I'm going to save this for the next debate Ivan.
 
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How come no one in the media ever calls out Obama for any of his screw-ups? When he does make a mistake everyone just piles on Bush. Im not saying that Bush was a good president but it feels like he has been used as a scapegoat for two years. It's time that the Obama administration takes responsibility for something that went wrong. It's upsetting that when a president pushes a message like 'change' is constantly living in the past.

And yes, I do know that some of it was actually Bush's fault, but it seems like a disproportionate amount of blame is being put on him.
 
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mheslep

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This gets a bit more entangled. Most of the wind farms built in the USA during the end of the Bush administration, were built by foreign companies.

America apparently has no significant wind farm industry.
[...]
Those are only 2008-9 projects that received stimulus money. Do you have another source supporting that conclusion? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NextEra_Energy_Resources" [Broken], a US firm, is the largest Wind farm operator in the US and its farms alone at 6600 MW dwarf all the projects on that stimulus wind farm list combined (2300MW). And BTW, General Electric is the largest supplier of turbines in the US. That doesn't necessarily mean the turbines are built here, anymore than foreign ownership of the installation companies means they are using foreign labor to execute the installations.
 
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Those are only 2008-9 projects that received stimulus money. Do you have another source supporting that conclusion? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NextEra_Energy_Resources" [Broken], a US firm, is the largest Wind farm operator in the US and its farms alone at 6600 MW dwarf all the projects on that stimulus wind farm list combined (2300MW). And BTW, General Electric is the largest supplier of turbines in the US. That doesn't necessarily mean the turbines are built here, anymore than foreign ownership of the installation companies means they are using foreign labor to execute the installations.
My bad. When I mentioned industry I really meant manufacturing, but the topic was stimulous money and the link definitely coveres that.

http://investigativereportingworkshop.org/investigations/wind-energy-funds-going-overseas/htmlmulti/map-wind-stimulus-recipients-receiving-awards-work/

The USA definitely has a large number of wind farm operations, but who built them? Who built the turbines, who built the towers.

The wind turbine manufacturing business is global and convoluted.

http://investigativereportingworkshop.org/investigations/wind-energy-funds-going-overseas/story/renewable-energy-money-still-going-abroad/

Steel towers make their way up the Columbia River, headed for the port of Vancouver last March. They were made in Vietnam for a Danish wind company and destined for a Portuguese wind farm in Indiana that got a stimulus grant.
 
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