Conservatively Speaking

State Senator Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin) represents parts of four counties: Milwaukee, Waukesha, Racine, and Walworth. Her Senate District 28 includes New Berlin, Franklin, Greendale, Hales Corners, Muskego, Waterford, Big Bend, the town of Vernon and parts of Greenfield, East Troy, and Mukwonago. Senator Lazich has been in the Legislature for more than a decade. She considers herself a tireless crusader for lower taxes, reduced spending and smaller government.

Global warming lessons from Spain to Wisconsin


The state Senate Select Committee on Clean Energy that I serve on has completed its schedule of four public hearings about proposed global warming legislation that would make dramatic and problematic changes to  Wisconsin energy policy. Committee members heard 22 hours of testimony, none more damaging than that of Paula Quinn of Hartland. 

Paula Quinn is not an elected official, government bureaucrat, or member of any special interest.  Paula Quinn is a taxpaying, PTA attending mother of three. Citing a study by the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos in Madrid, Paula Quinn told the committee that the controversial policies being considered in Wisconsin were instituted in Spain during 1997 and called the country an example of actual history.

Spain is the model being pushed in America. Speaking at a wind turbine plant in Bedford heights, Ohio 
January 16th, 2009, then president-elect Barack Obama said that renewable energy “can create millions of additional jobs and entire new industries.” Obama added, “Think of what’s happening in countries like Spain, where they’re making real investments in renewable energy. They’re surging ahead of us.”

More than any other country, Spain has supported renewable energy concepts. The Spanish “Study of the effects on employments of public aid to renewable energy sources” released during March 2009 says the claims made about “green jobs” in Spain and throughout Europe are the same being waged in the United States today. The study bluntly asserts these policies are “terribly economically counterproductive” and that the “green jobs” agenda “in fact kills jobs.”

Here is the most damning point of the study: Spain’s experience pinpointed as a model by President Obama can be expected to result in a loss of 2.2 jobs for every job created, or nearly 9 jobs lost for every four created. Gabriel Calzada, an economics professor at the
Universidad Rey Juan Carlos and author of the study reports the premiums paid for solar, biomass, wave and wind power that  are charged to consumers in their bills amounted to a $774,000 cost for each Spanish “green job” created since 2000.

Spain created a low number of jobs from renewable energy policies, two-thirds in construction, fabrication, and installation, and one-quarter in administrative, marketing, and engineering positions. Only one out of 10 jobs was created to permanently operate and maintain the renewable sources of energy.

Programs creating these jobs caused the loss of 110,500 jobs in other sectors of the economy like metallurgy, non-metallic mining, food processing, beverage and tobacco industries due to the subsequent increase in the cost of electricity.

The total subsidy Spain spent on renewable energy sources was $36 billion. In order to repay Spain’s historic debt caused by the subsidies to renewables, the study concludes electric rates would have to be increased 31 percent. Study researchers say the U.S., like Spain, would have to cope with higher energy costs or higher taxes by following Spain’s lead.

What’s more, the high cost of energy drives businesses away. Take Spain-based Acerinox, the world’s second-largest manufacturer of stainless steel. According to the study, the CEO of Acerinox during 2002, Victoriano Muñoz cautioned at that time that the price of electricity for consumers had increased 10.6 percent since the beginning of the decade, and that service had been interrupted dozens of times. Two years later, Acerinox decided to expand, not in Spain, but at plants in Kentucky (USA) and Columbia (South Africa). Hundreds of jobs were exported out of Spain.

In short, the study that can be viewed here reveals Spain’s energy regulator must decide whether residents and businesses need expensive and inefficient energy, or opt instead for affordable energy to get the country through its economic crisis. The same can be said for Wisconsin.

The study’s author writes that when it comes to the Spanish model the U.S. wishes to replicate, “the reality is far from what has typically been presented, and that such schemes also offer considerable employment consequences and implications for emerging from the economic crisis.”  The study’s evaluation should be regarded as, the author says, a note of caution.

Given the devastating ramifications that could result with Wisconsin adopting proposed global warming legislation, calling the advice from the Spanish researchers a note of caution is an understatement.

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