Obama’s Energy Expansion Plan: Hopeless Dream?


President Obama wants renewable energy output to double in the next three years, but that goal is unreasonable according EE News (sub req.)

It will take at least five years to build the 3,000 miles in new electricity infrastructure necessary to support a doubled flow of renewable energy. And even with billions in stimulus spending, there still won’t be enough money available to keep certain alternative energy projects, like wind, going.

Last year wind and solar grew considerably, but by the end of the year, both industries were stumbling. Solar is over supplied and the tight credit markets are hurting the wind industry. The current version of the stimulus bill getting kicked around does not have a provision that would allow investment tax credits to be converted into cash, which wind companies say they need.

In addition to a lack of cash, new energy sources need time. To obtain permits to build new power lines takes three years. Once the permits are obtained, there will be a dearth in competent employees to build the towers.

The U.S. has 100,000 transmission line workers today, but most are already working. In five years there will be fewer as retirement picks up. Because it is a trade–people shimmy up 200 foot towers to to play power lines–hiring new electrical workers is no easy task. They will require extensive training.

The good news in all of this? It will create loads of new jobs.

See Also:
Is Obama Blowing An Infrastructure Bubble?