Obama’s 3 New Solar Plants: The Facts

July 4, 2010





On Friday, President Obama announced plans to provide $2 billion in funding for the construction of three new solar energy electric power generating plants, one each to be built in Arizona, Colorado and Indiana. 

I’ve provided three links above.  The first is a Reuters article about the announcement.  The second is an article that provides some facts about the plants – their design and capacity.  The third is an article that provides data about the total annual consumption of electric power in the U.S.

From these articles we can deduce certain facts.  These three plants combined will generate 840 megawatts of power.  Assuming the Arizona plant can generate electricity for 18 hours per day (because of its use of technology that stores the energy for up to 6 hours past sun-down) and the other plants can provide electricity for 12 hours per day, that’s a capacity of 4.3 million megawatt-hours.  The projects will create 5,000 jobs, of which 1500 will be permanent jobs.  The plants will be completed in about three years.  Contrary to those who say that this is just more deficit spending, adding to the national debt, the $1.9 billion is actually in the form of loan guaratees, all of which will be paid back.

Annual electric power consumption in the U.S. is about 4200 million megawatt-hours.  That’s about 14 megawatt-hours per person. 

Doing the math, we find that these three plants combined will generate enough electric power to meet the needs of about 300,000 people.  The problem is that our population grows by that many people every five weeks.  So, regarding the claim that this will help reduce our dependence on foreign oil:  it will, for about five weeks.  After that, we’ll be even more dependent on foreign oil.  By the time these plants come on line in 2013, our population will have grown by 30 times the number of people that can be supplied with electricity by these three plants. 

Regarding the claim that this will add 5,000 new jobs:  that’s being very disingenuous.  By the time that these plants come on line in three years, providing 1,500 permanent jobs, population growth (driven mostly by immigration) will have added 4.5 million workers to the labor force.  If this is the president’s plan for cutting unemployment, he’s coming up short by 4.9985 million jobs.  And besides, if he had done nothing, the extra power required for this population would have been generated anyway, whether through fossil fuel power plants or through these solar plants, adding the same number of jobs (give or take) regardless.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not opposed to switching to solar and wind power and away from fossil fuel.  If I were president, I’d be imposing huge tariffs on imported oil and would be providing loan guarantees for three new renewable energy plants every week.  The point I’m trying to make is that we can never, ever attain energy independence or put our people back to work solely with approaches like these.  It’s impossible without adopting a population management strategy that stabilizes and even reduces our population.  And restoring full employment is impossible without a trade strategy that takes immediate steps to restore a balance of trade, bringing our manufacturing jobs back home.

It’s such a shame that, in spite of the promise of hope and change, we’re instead saddled with yet another president who is squandering the incredible chance he’s been given to put this country back on a path to energy independence and sustainability and economic prosperity.  Mr. President, please, sit down and spend just an hour doing some math and decide for yourself (without listening to Larry Summers and Christine Romer) what’s needed to permanently correct the direction in which this country is headed.

Employment Level Falls by 301,000 in June

July 2, 2010


If I were Obama, I’d be ashamed to publish a report like the employment report published by BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics) this morning.  The reported gain in private sector employment of over 80,000 jobs and the decline in the unemployment rate to 9.5% completely distorts the real employment picture. 

The following spreadsheet provides the BLS data, along with a more realistic picture of unemployment.

Unemployment Calculation

As you can see, the decline in the unemployment rate to 9.5% was made possible only by the government’s assumption that 652,000 workers exited the labor force in June, apparently no longer needing a source of income to put bread on the table.  This was the second month in a row that the labor force has declined, and was exceeded only slightly by the decline in December, ’09.  If the government was honest in their estimation of the labor force, they’d steadily be adding over 120,000 workers every month, thanks to population growth. 

Contrary to this morning’s report, here are the grim facts:

  • In June, the employment level fell by 301,000 workers, the third monthly decline in a row.  (See column E.)
  • Assuming the labor force to be a constant percentage of the population, unemployment rose in June to 11.5% from 11.2% in May.  (See column H.)
  • The number of unemployed Americans rose to over 18 million in June, the 2nd increase in a row. 
  • U6a (see column J), the broader measure of unemployment, spiked above 20% again, rising to 20.4% from 19.9% in May.

As the day wears on, expect analysts to see through the smoke and mirrors and come to the same conclusion:   this is just one more piece of data that supports the view that the economy is sliding back into recession.

Not surprising.  The president has done absolutely nothing to address the fundamental problems with the economy – the huge trade deficit in manufactured goods caused by trade policy that fails to take into account the role of population density disparities (in other words, his failure to act decisively with tariffs to restore a balance of trade), and his continuation of policies that pile more immigrant workers onto an already-glutted labor force.

In fact, he’s making matters worse.  At the conclusion of the G20 last week, he delivered a left jab to American workers by announcing his intention to push through a free trade deal with South Korea, the third most densely populated nation on earth (behind Bangladesh and the Palestinian Territory), 15 times more densely populated than the U.S. and heavily dependent on manufacturing surpluses to sustain their bloated labor force.  And yesterday he delivered a right cross to the jaw of American workers by pushing for amnesty for illegal aliens.  American workers are reeling, about to fall to the mat for the count. 

Obama is no friend to American workers and, despite his efforts to gloss over the employment situation, his policy chickens are coming home to roost.  Each new piece of economic data reinforces the picture of an economy slipping back into decline.  Then what?  Another huge stimulus?  That’s been my prediction all along.  But the markets have absolutely no appetite for any more deficit spending. 

Patience is running short.  I think that soon, in the coming months, we’re going to see the economic you-know-what hit the fan. 


By the way, the following are charts of the data presented in spreadsheet above:

Labor Force & Employment Level     Unemployed Americans     Unemployment Chart