The dark side of “Green”: tens of thousands of lost jobs & more Oregonians who can’t pay their electric bills

Oregon Transformation

A study just released by Cascade Policy Institute & Beacon Hill predicts that the effect of renewable energy policies in Oregon is a net loss of tens of thousands of jobs. With increasing fossil fuel prices, Oregon has turned to green energy to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and our carbon footprint. That effort comes with a price. “Just a few years ago, 1 in 20 Oregonians couldn’t pay their electric bills and had their electricity shut off. We will continue to see this rate increase as more renewable energy is forced onto the grid,” says Todd Wynn of Cascade Policy Institute.

Oregon’s Green Industry may cost the state more than 20,000 jobs

For the past several years, Oregon has been focused on the “Green Energy” movement, hoping that large scale government subsidy of renewable energy projects will produce a significant number of “green jobs” in this state.

So how is the “Green Jobs” movement faring?

A recent Oregonian article states that despite millions of tax dollars being funneled into this industry, our government cannot tell us with any certainty how many jobs have been created and/or will be created in Oregon.

Is this because the state has no way of tracking that information, or is it because the renewable energy program itself has the effect of eliminating more jobs than the subsidies create?

Why would it eliminate jobs? Well, “green” energy is far more expensive than energy produced from traditional sources. Requiring “green” energy raises the electricity bills of households and businesses.

This causes job losses in other sectors of the economy.

A study just released by Cascade Policy Institute & Beacon Hill predicts that the effect of renewable energy policies in Oregon is a net loss of tens of thousands of jobs. Here’s what the report says:

“Oregon’s ratepayers will face higher electricity prices which will increase their cost of living, which will in turn put downward pressure on households’ disposable income. By 2025, the Oregon economy would shed 17,530 jobs [average], within a range of 10,025 and 24,630 jobs.”

With an unemployment rate in Oregon of just over 10%, can we afford to continue our current renewable energy policies when they could possibly be adding to our jobless number?



The ideas may be green, but we may be seeing red

In 2007, Oregon passed Senate Bill 838, which mandates that 25% of the energy being provided by utility companies comes from renewable resources by 2025.

We have been striving for alternative energy sources like biofuel and wind power, but what kind of return have we taxpayers been getting on our investment?

As reported in the Oregonian on March 14, 2011 ‐‐ not much. One example is Cascade Grains, a biofuel startup company that received $12 million of our tax dollars only to go bankrupt and out of business.

Another example is Horizon Wind Energy, which received $11 million in tax credits only to produce 36 fulltime jobs. That’s a price tag of $305,555 per job.

Not only does it seem to be costing us millions to make green energy mainstream, but once that goal is achieved, how will that affect our energy bills?

According to a report just published by Cascade Policy Institute & Beacon Hill, our rates have already increased to accommodate SB 838. As of January 2011, PGE raised its rates an average of 4.2% per household and Pacific Power had an increase of 14.5%.

This chart shows projected upcoming increases in electricity bills for 2015‐2025.

The report also projects that our energy bills will have an average 24% increase by 2025 as a direct result of SB 838 – at a cost to consumers of $6.81 Billion.

With increasing fossil fuel prices, Oregon has turned to green energy to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and our carbon footprint. That effort comes with a price.

“Just a few years ago, 1 in 20 Oregonians couldn’t pay their electric bills and had their electricity shut off. We will continue to see this rate increase as more renewable energy is forced onto the grid,” says Todd Wynn of Cascade Policy Institute.

Does it make sense to trade this much of our disposable income and economic potential for renewable energy mandates?



  • Runningbull

    The only answer to this fiasco is more wind power using newer, quieter turbines that don’t kill birds or drive people insane from the noise. These new units should be available in 5 years tops. Then, if we can just convince mother earth to keep a blowing 24/7 we can mill our way out of this crisis.
    In the meantime, if anyone can not pay their bill then the state should help them.
    And NOW! People need power for air conditioning due to global warming caused by the power plants that give them the ability to air condition.
    Life was sure simpler when we lived off the land instead of on it.

  • Britt Storkson

    These “renewable energy” scams are nothing more than corporate welfare…Simply one more way to funnel tax money to a few wealthy individuals who “feed back” some of that money to the politicians to maintain this scheme. We used to call that bribery.

    Monopoly utilities are just one more way the government has to extract money out of the taxpayers. For more information read:

    • FYI Britt, Thank God the utility monopoly is going away. I have customers in NY who can lock in their Electric and or natural Gas bill for 3 years and California, IL. & TX. are next. Oregon has deregulated electricty and we will have options for that soon.

      Profit from deregualtion, help create an option because competition always lowers prices and get your piece of the pie we all pay every month, for the rest of your life…details?

  • Bob Clark

    The Business Energy Tax Credits (BETC) is a significant cause of Oregon state government’s budget deficit. So instead of like doing the common sense thing like eliminating BETC, the governor instead proposes reducing education transfers to local school districts across Oregon. The school districts are then forced to go out asking local property taxpayers for additional taxes for operation. So, this state government madness over renewable energy and global warming negatively feeds through to many parts of the economy. The classic case of the government mandated solution worse than the problem.

  • Valley person

    This critique, and the critique in the Oregonian, mix apples and oranges to arrive at a banana. Oregon has different programs with different aims. We have economic development programs that try and attract new traded sector industries to the state, like Solar World. And when those are successful they result in decent paying jobs that would not be here otherwise. We require utilities to move toward cleaner energy portfolios. The goal here is not jobs, it is to reduce our state’s contribution to greenhouse gasses. There may or may not be a side benefit of more jobs.

    No matter what we do, the cost of energy is going to go up. Oil is at $100 a barrel, natural gas prices are volatile and likely to trend up. Hydro is maxed out. Alternative energies are new technologies that are on a declining cost curve, but presently more expensive than fossil fuels. Our choices are limited. We aren’t going to go back to burning more coal, so what does Catalyst propose instead? More nuclear? Also very expensive, heavily subsidized, and a bit risky in a seismically active part of the world.

    • Steve Plunk

      Natural gas prices have been falling steadily for years. It is likely to stay low as we transition to a net exporter. Coal will continue to be a major source of energy for electrical generation. Technology is breathing life into old oil wells and increasing estimates of recoverable reserves.

      Energy sources that can really matter are there and ready for development if government will look objectively at it. Green solutions are not ready for prime time by any measure. Without subsidies green energy goes away.

      • Valley person

        Look at the chart below and tell me natural gas prices have been falling steadily for years. The current downward trend dates from mid 2008 and coincides with the recession and economic slowdown. As demand picks up, so will prices, as they have already for oil.

        Coal is on the way out in Oregon. Our one and only coal plant is scheduled to close, that decision made by a private utility based on the cost of upgrading. A bit more can be squeezed out of old oil wells and gas fields when prices go up enough, but no one is putting more oil or gas into the ground to replace what is taken out. Fossil fuels are called that for a reason. They are residues of long dead organic matter, sort of like what passes for conservative thinking on energy policy.

        I repeat, the cost of energy is headed up no matter which path we choose. The easiest way to beat the cost increase is to use less.

        • wnd

          Stemming the tsunami of “illegal” immigrants helps US to use less, too.

          • Valley person

            Depends. They do a lot of manual labor for us. If we replaced them with machinery we might use more.

          • wnd

            VP, blowing US over with his knee jerk haute’ air – and/or, seeking his name recognition on one of ‘weird’ Potland’s Village Path’s?

          • Anonymous

            Are you on drugs, dude?

          • Valley person

            I think it might be past tense. As in fried some connective tissue back in the day.

          • wnd

            “I won’t insult your intelligence by suggesting that you really believe what you just said.”
            William F. Buckley, Jr.

          • Valley person

            Hey, I wasn’t there. It was just a suggestion to explain the unique syntax you use.

          • wnd
        • Steve Plunk

          Gas production has been rising because of drilling technology that has allowed extraction form the Marcellus and Barnett formations. Read some oil and gas journals instead of Wikipedia and you will get better information. This same drilling technology is allowing Europe to tap new reserves and existing oil producers to increase yields. China is increasing it’s drilling and also it’s reliance on coal. These moves will further reduce supply strains.

          Back to original message, we have to accept that as a matter of physics green energy is never going to amount to any substantial replacement for our current sources. The green sector has become inhabited by charlatans and snake oil salesmen who takes advantage of the hysteria surrounding it. Range Fuels is a good example. For expediency sake Wikipedia them and notice reference 2. They sucked up millions in subsidies and then closed.

          I agree conservation should be a part of our plan but so should oil, gas, coal, nuclear, hydro, and whatever else we can lay our hands on without the silly subsidies we are throwing at green energy.

    • Dean Apostal is a douchebag

      Dean Apostal is a colossal douchebag and compulsive liar in need of psychiatric help.

      • Ljganser

        Swallow the douche bag perv!

  • Todd

    Valley person and others,

    The report reflects the cost of forcing renewable energy versus other energy sources.

    The analysis takes into account increases or decreases in costs associated with different energy sources over time according to the EIA estimates.

    These costs show the ADDITIONAL cost that restrictive energy policies will impose upon the Oregon economy over the period of 2015-2025.

    • Valley person

      Todd, can you clarify further? Your comparison is between what you call “restrictive” energy policies and what exactly? A theoretical world that has no restrictions on energy use? No pollution regulations? No depletion allowances? No government taking responsibility for nuclear waste and safety inspections? No expensive defense of sea lanes in the Middle east?

      You can make an economic argument for burning more coal or oil to make electricity, but you have to ignore the environmental consequences in the bargain. State policies are built around the basic idea that burning fossil fuels for electricity is maybe not such a good idea. Yes, it costs us more to make the change. Convince me this change is not necessary.

      For Steve, as a matter of living on a finite planet, we can’t just keep sucking more and more fossil fuels out. Someday we have to be able to live on the day to day energy the earth produces, not the energy it produced millions of years ago. When we are drilling in 5000 feet of water, “fracking,” and so forth just to maintain current production rates, its a sign we should be planning for a transition.

      • Dean Apostle (VP) its a sign we should be planning for a transition.
        JK: Transition to what?

        How will that affect low income people?


        • spell check
        • Valley person

          A transition to less reliance on declining fossil fuels, implying an increase in renewable energy and a decrease in overall energy use by being more conservative.

          How it affects low income people depends on how we go about it. A carbon tax and direct rebate system would probably work in their favor since they tend to use less energy anyway. They might come out ahead.

          • Supply and demand will dictate cost and progress in green energy and technology..Taxes and and fees on a so called carbon footprint are B.S.Get the govt out of the way ..your ideas and controlls have already run the country into the ground.Global warming by man is a hoax…

  • Lacretia

    It is my understanding that PG&E owns the right to all power generation off of the waterways in Oregon due to some sort of “deal” made with our elected officials way back when.

    It may be time to undo the deal and allow individuals to set up their own power generation off existing waterways where feasible, and the will, desire and knowledge exists to do so.

    It is also my understanding that, at least, one of the dams (Bonneville?), at one time, still had space for another generator to be installed. Is that space still available, if so, why hasn’t the generator been installed, is there a valid reason for not installing it beyond the green genocidal faux science, or some corporate shenanigan devoted to profit at all costs?

    With the Cascades being such a lively mountain chain, is geothermal power generation should not be abandoned as having potential–maybe.

    Perhaps most of all, the human race could outgrow the unhealthy behaviors that creates manipulation of the truth, science, information, governments and money system just to create obscene wealth for anyone or any group of people at the expense of devastating living conditions for any human being or living thing on this planet.

    There is no doubt in my mind that we have the money, knowledge and ability to live well with abundance of power and healthy homes and food for all people if we stop worshiping the wrong things.

  • Oregonnative

    Renewable Energy-Wind Turbines… Hmm.
    Are the “Wind Turbins” in the Columbia Gorge ” renewable energy ” when it cost more electricity just to turn them to face the wind with generators?
    Are the Wind Turbines” really renewable when they are manufacture overseas, fossil fuel to ship overseas, fossill fuel to delever them to site, and employee fossil fuel in vehicle to drive to those faraway places?
    Are these “Wind Turbines” really renewable when they break down before the cost by subsidy (yours tax dollars), and the vicious cycle above starts all over again?
    Is it fair to the tax payer to have a company say to themself, lets split our property in three parts and get 30 mil subsidy instead of 10 mill ?
    Is it fair to the tax payer to subsidy a million dollar piece of equipment ( those wind turbines ), that will never produce a million dollars worth of electricity before equipment breaks down or maintanance cost exceed output.
    If those believe that wind turbines are the way to go, invest all your money in those companies that manufacture those turbines (Chinese). Watch your investment dollars go away as your tax dollars are already disappearing down the drain. Do you feel good about green, now.
    Renewable Energy-Photovoltectics…Hmm
    Is it really “Renewable”, when the systems are again subsidied by “Tax Credits”, out tax dollars?
    Does the Photovotectic install really produce enough “Electricity” that pays for the systems other equipment that is also needed to maintain the system, (batteries,inverters and more), before replacement is needed. All this equipment is not “renewable” but certainly “replaceable”.
    Many companies that have produced these photovoltectic panels have gone bankrupt, except of course those in China. Solar One (Hillsborough Plant) again is getting more susidies from from the goverment ( 110 mill. ? ), being our tax dollars to keep the doors open. Anybody ever ask who this company is owned by?
    I think all the above is green…greenbacks that is, going into foriegn pockets, providing very tax subside non-permanant expensive jobs. Somebody is laughing all the way to the bank.
    Where does my expeirence and knowledge come fromm to state the above.
    1. I sold all the above in the early 1980s for many years and talked most people out of it, unless they were miles from the electrical grid.
    2. I have many friends working for the above in design, construction and sales and they do not believe in it either, but need the paychecks as long as it last.

    If those of you that totally believe, then invest all your money where your mouth is…buy high…lose everything. Do not worry the Feds and State will bail you were or will not be responsible for your actions and our “Nanny Nation” will be there for you.

  • Anonymous

    My .02:
    For years, I’ve been the ‘power-nazi’ in our house. If there were any way to reduce our electricity bill further, it would have been done already.

    Enough of the ‘conservation’/’conservative-use’ BS: I have a say regarding power generation in this State as well, and being told my bills are going up 25-50% and the only thing I can do about it is pay more taxes to subsidize ‘green energy’ and low-income people who value their cable & smart phone bills more? PLEASE! More than half of the ‘low-income’ folks I see at the discount grocery markets drive cars 10-15 years newer than mine (and 90% of ‘non-residents’).

    This is no different than what’s been ongoing for public employee benefits that exceed the private sector:

    It’s ‘extortion’.

    Usurping the legislative justification for this ‘extortion’ by padding the voting rolls with union/public employees & those beholden to entitlements amounts to tyranny.

    The trolls trying to proselytize here should take heed: Our eyes are open.

    • valley person

      $1700 is a 10 year estimate, meaning $170 per year, meaning $14 a month. I doubt that is a 25-50% increase in your monthly bill unless you are spending only $50 a month or so on your electric power. And if you are that low, your increase might be only $10 a month or less.

      In other words…don’t get excited. $10-15 a month to get cleaner energy is not cause for a revolution.

      • Anonymous

        Troll, you are an idiot.

        Roll in subsidies & tax breaks, local & federal, and your pathetic example ends up more than DOUBLING the average electric bill.

      • Anonymous

        Troll, you are an idiot.

        Roll in subsidies & tax breaks, local & federal, and your pathetic example ends up more than DOUBLING the average electric bill.

      • Anonymous

        Btw, troll, don’t hyperventilating believing I made a mistake:

        Obfuscating the issue by focusing on ‘just’ the electric bill while ignoring taxes & fees across-the-board is manipulation with political motivation.

      • Anonymous

        Btw, troll, don’t hyperventilating believing I made a mistake:

        Obfuscating the issue by focusing on ‘just’ the electric bill while ignoring taxes & fees across-the-board is manipulation with political motivation.

  • 2MT

    agreed that the wind turbines are a bust. solar is doing OK as the tech improves.
    Dams look at the money the power company never paid for them in first place. Taxes built the dams and subsidized the maintenance for years. Now the power companies are having to foot the bill, they wont improve the generators one bit since it costs money. However Green energy is being subsidized now and the power company is on the band wagon with its hand in the public wallet. pretty darn simple to figure the boys in the board room are chasing free money and jacking the price to the public up as they go. LNG is a bomb waiting for the right moment to blow (as it has several times in the last year), oil is on the way out, only the uninformed cant read the writing on the wall about all the easy stuff is gone and the hard to get is all thats left.
    nuclear in our area would be and is a really stupid idea we are on the wan de fuca plate and earth is not kind enough to tell us when we are slated for a 9. . Geothermal would be good but the power companies wont go for it till they get tax money. biomass is possible in a limited fashion but again not subsidized. tide power works but HLS will block anything involving small craft moving around that they cant track.

    As for jobs Welcome to the real hell! companies wont come if they have to pay taxes, oregon taxes the hell out of small business; limiting startups and any real R&D. Any Export or ideas that involve small boats/ships are instantly squashed in new federal and state regulations. forestry is a bad idea since the super trees where planted and now produce a 2X4 that cant be rated for anything more than junk studs. now days everyone is looking at service industry jobs and that would be fine in the south but here in oregon i don’t think we want slaves. Immigrants pay taxes so i wouldn’t get to heated up about them. if you really want to get your undies in a knot look at what corporations are on the dole.

    it all comes down to Education, education, education. micro hydro is good tech and can supply communities but not the grid. all of these emergent green tech things work small scale but don’t work like we are used to. a distributed power grid is the best answer and it would create jobs but its not some huge company type answer. its a local answer and here in oregon we best start thinking local cause we are one disaster from being isolated from the rest of the country. if you want jobs you best be thinking self sufficiency in our communities cause no one is going to ride in and save us. We are in need of boot strap mentalities and innovators with a stake in the communities. not some white night that booms and then sends all its manufacturing to Korea or china!
    As for the federal junk oregon needs to tell the feds to step off and get out of our politics. We need to wean our selves from the federal tit and stand on our own feet. send the none citizen politicians out on the rail and get down to oregon doing it best again.
    Force our state government back to separate accounts for services instead of the general fund and stop stupid things like refurnishing an office instead of repairing the furniture. if washington wants a bridge they can pay for it. stop widening the roads and simply repair the darn pavement so its a pleasure to drive instead of a pain. put the money back into the schools and stop with the locking up every pot smoker, actually concentrate on real crime. if we want to see fiscal responsibility we need to force it here and then take on the feds till then none of the green energy ideas will make jobs cause you cant create jobs if your waiting for money from uncle sam.

    in short make oregon work without the federal programs and we will have jobs that folks can take pride in. follow the flock and we raise a generation of slaves for wall-mart who have no pride or innovation. to me its a clear choice.
    Sorry for the length.

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