in Houston, Texas
Texas wind farm tax break program costs $1.6 million per job
Monday, Dec 20, 2010, 10:08AM CST
By Mark Lisheron
wind turbines

Wind farms, upon which the smitten state of Texas is lavishing a majority of its tax breaks through a special program, is a terrible job creation investment, according to a study by the Texas comptroller.


A school district property tax break program to lure new industry that will cost the state about $400 million over the next two years has gone largely to wind farm projects that produce, on average, one job for every $1.6 million of capital investment, the study outlined in the Austin American-Statesman, says. The story says this cost per job figure is 40 times what it is for projects that win tax benefits from Gov. Perry's Texas Enterprise Fund.


Of the 98 investments that have gotten school district tax breaks, 63 are for wind farms. The cost per job ratio for the wind power projects is roughly 10 times the $166,188 for manufacturing projects and 30 times the $51,249 for research and development projects granted tax breaks under the same school district allowance.


Comptroller Susan Combs told the newspaper she intends to ask the legislature to reconsider the program begun in 2001 to tie investment to job creation. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was also not explicit in how many jobs would be created by the $787 billion originally approved by Congress,  and some agencies have created jobs that cost more than $1 million apiece, Texas Watchdog reported. And while some believe that investment by government in wind and solar power is laudable, reporting by Texas Watchdog has shown that the true overall cost to taxpayers is often not made clear.

"The (job) numbers are exactly what I feared," Rep. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, told the Statesman. "I'm all for green jobs, but not at such high costs. We have to prove that these green jobs don't rely too much on taxpayer subsidies."

Contact Mark Lisheron at 512-299-2318 or mark@texaswatchdog.org.

 

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Photo of wind turbines by flickr user ninjawil, used via a Creative Commons license.

Comments
Robert Collinge
Monday, 12/20/2010 - 11:08AM

Hopefully the message will get out that government boondoggles are not the way to promote either jobs or energy efficiency. I expect people are waking up to the fact that wind energy is not even "green." At every stage of the way in wind power, you find environmental harm. Texas is talking about massive powerline rights-of-way slashing through the Hill Country to get the energy to market. The windmills themselves have externalities, including the slaughter of birds and odious noise to neighbors. The wind turbines use rare earth elements, mined in Mongolia because the environmental impacts had shut down the mines in the U.S. If only we could stop relying on central planners to nudge us toward stuff like wind farms! But that would take a willingness to rely on market prices to promote conservation and alternative energy development. Free market efficiency leaves no room for the power brokers to broker their power, and that is the kind of power you can be sure they care about the most.

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