The Green Job Phantasm


From the Sandusky (Ohio) Register, a story about the ghost of green jobs future:

EHOVE educators also want to avoid the situation Oregon City Schools is facing after 13 graduates of its renewable energy program sued the district in December.

Dawn Weinbrecht, 41, of Toledo worked in real estate for 18 years and decided to go back to school when that industry tanked. She signed up for a six-month course on wind, solar and geothermal energy at Oregon Career and Technology Center.

"We thought that this would be the new wave and that green energy jobs would be fruitful and available," Weinbrecht said. "When we signed onto the program, we were guaranteed job-shadowing experience and hands-on training."

Neither internships nor jobs materialized, according to the lawsuit….

Ohio had 35,267 jobs in the clean-energy economy in 2007, according to a report by the Pew Charitable Trusts, making the state fourth in the nation.

But green jobs still represent a small portion of the work force. Even by the broadest definition, green jobs make up only 2 percent of the economy, according to a new report from the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Whole thing here.

In other news, the state of Ohio, facing a $3 billion budget deficit and higher-than-average unemployment, is pouring $6 million into subsidizing training for…green jobs. ""We are quickly putting these dollars to use to retrain Ohio workers for the new energy jobs our economy is creating," says Gov. Ted Strickland.

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  1. Dawn Weinbrecht, 41, of Toledo worked in real estate for 18 years and decided to go back to school when that industry tanked. She signed up for a six-month course on wind, solar and geothermal energy at Oregon Career and Technology Center.

    Hate to break it to you, Dawn, but a six month course in anything is not going to give you a highly marketable skill.

    1. Does “green” job mean jobs where the employees are totally undereducated neophytes?

      1. Hahahahhahahahahahaha! No wait . . . yep . . . hahahahhahahhahahahhaha!

  2. Sandusky (Ohio)

    Is there any other kind? Yeah, i learn my geography from Chris Farley movies, what about it?

  3. Dawn would have been better off taking the six month “sex worker” training course.

  4. Jennifer Granholm, perhaps the most incompetent governor in the nation, is all for “green jobs” in Michigan. After the resounding success her “Cool Cities” initiative had in boosting Michigan’s economy, who can doubt her?

    1. Oops! I SugarFreed the link. Try this.

  5. Why doesn’t anyone ever believe I exist?

    1. I worshiped the rock that was hurled at you!

    2. There’s a reason why I’m always forgotten.

  6. Give a man a fish, he’ll eat for a day, teach him how to install solar panels, he’ll eat until people realize AGW is a hoax.

  7. What I don’t get is why they don’t go after the low hanging fruit. Solar water heaters are quite viable in about half the country, with a payback time of anywhere from 1-4 years, depending on water usage.

    Focusing on this, and a few other areas where “green” energy is viable, could actually provide some results. (I did not agree that the government should subsidize weatherizing houses, but it was at least viable, and non-insane). Instead, they focus on these massive fantasies of total solar / wind energy that aren’t going to happen.

    1. Less money in picking the lower fruit?

      1. That might be part of it – they don’t get as much control. But I think it might be an aspirational thing – JFK had the moon landing, Obama wants “green energy” to be his moon shot. And incremental improvements aren’t as inspirational as sea changes.

        1. Not only that, but solar energy isn’t as simple as “put solar array on roof, heat water heater.” There are maintenance issues, and there is the unfortunate reality that the um, sun don’t shine all the time. Hope you’re cool with cold showers on occasion.

          There is a great take down of home/personal solar/wind energy internet scams that I found after reading Warty’s link to that Feynman essay on the physics thread from a few days ago. The authors do a great job of explaining the specifics of what goes in to getting “off the grid” and how economically feasible it really is.

          The Earth4Energy Scam Review

          1. Well built solar water heating systems have larger capacities than regular hot water heaters (e.g., 200 gallons versus 80), and are well insulated enough for that to not be a problem too often. They do need to be maintained, but it’s not like they need weekly upkeep. My main point is that they are viable – depending on where you live, they can actually be a very good investment. I live in Florida, where there really isn’t any reason not to have one, unless you really hate to do any upkeep.

            1. I can see how this would make sense in say, Florida, where the sun shines a lot and it’s warm out. But not so much in say, Portland, where the sun doesn’t shine as much and it’s cold.

              1. When I said “about half the country” in my original post, I should have specified the southern half. There are special systems, as Tonio mentions in his post, that can make it more viable in other parts of the country, but then you’re doing it because you’re a committed enviro. In the southern states, you can do this as an investment – it has an actual payback.

              2. Tman, I think you overestimate how much different the amount of sunlight varies from one place to the next. Virtually the entire lower 48 gets at least half of what Arizona does.


            2. Tman, many people who have solar heaters also have conventional (tank) or tankless heaters as backup for high-demand periods and for the colder darker months. Generally the water flows through the solar array, then through the other heater to keep things simple for the user.

              Sure solar water heating is very practical in the desert southwest, and not so much in North Slope Alaska.

              Portland (ME or OR?) — maybe. Remember that the array (pipes on the roof) are underneath plexiglass (greenhouse effect) and that a reasonable amount of IR (heat) punches through the clouds on any day where you can tell where the sun is by looking.

              1. I’m not anti-solar by any means, but the main point I was making in regards to the issue in the post is that “green jobs” that include training people to install solar panels is not by any means a net benefit for an economy or a labor pool because a.)Ohio in the winter is probably not an ideal solar power water heater situation and b.) these systems are not by any means maintenance free, which means the labor costs are a net loss to the economy.

          2. Oh, and going “off the grid” is completely economically stupid, unless you’re in the middle of nowhere. That’s why I mentioned the water heaters specifically – it can be done as a one-off, and doesn’t require massive lifestyle changes.

  8. Thank you for the Nick Gillespie post minus his face.

    1. Up Next: The Max post minus the post.

    2. Why you say that? He’s pretty. And he looks serious. And I like the leather jacket.

  9. “””Ohio had 35,267 jobs in the clean-energy economy in 2007″””

    Since they don’t specify what a “clean energy economy” job is I bet they are just redefining anyone who installed insulation or new double pane windows during the housing boom as “green energy”

  10. “We thought that this would be the new wave and that green energy jobs would be fruitful and available,” Weinbrecht said. “When we signed onto the program, we were guaranteed job-shadowing experience and hands-on training.”

    You fucked up… you trusted us.

  11. Wasn’t the stimulus supposed to provide these green jobs, I’m so confused.

    1. If you count green jobs as politically connected people being giving the taxpayer’s green then it was a success.

  12. The lawsuit was filed back in January – can anyone figure out how they did?

    1. The lawsuit was filed in January. That doesn’t mean they waltz into court the next morning and have a decision by sundown. Depending on the caseload this case may not have even come to trial yet.

      There is nothing in TFA to indicate which court the case was filed in – you’d need the court and the case style (ie Brown vs. Board of Education) to find out any more info.

      Suggest you write the author, Susan McMillan.

  13. First the $6 million given was awarded to Ohio from the Department of Labor (Stimulus $). So they can either spend it on retraining (it is actually a well set up program with a a law just passed for tax breaks for clean tech companies as well as these training dollars to encourage investment)- or they can lose it. Might as well spend it.

    Second, people have a terrible idea of what a green job is. The idea should be to upgrade the existing skills of workers, and give them an additional revenue stream. Why take a 6 month course on wind, solar, and geothermal? These things have very little to do with each other – except for the fact they are all renewable energy. What she should have done is get a nationally recognized certification to install solar panels (NABCEP), look for a job, while attending a 2 year electricians program (because an electrician’s skills translate into those needed to install solar panels.)

    Then she would be an electrician, who also can install solar panels (an additional source of revenue).

    Until people realize this – there will keep being bad press about someone not getting a job – and people who will say “Obama is an idiot”.

  14. @Tman: So you mean that its not possible to generate electricity from home? There are various promotions going on at the moment for such guides, is there any place where we could learn how to make electricity at home for free?

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