September 12, 2010
|Lithium ion car battery. Photo: Dashboard News.|
Surely everyone would love to see cleaner energy programs in the U.S., especially given the environmental catastrophe looming in the Gulf. And certainly, the American economy desperately needs jobs. But leave it to our broken government to spend the stimulus money as inefficiently as the TARP funds which did very little to create jobs. In a recent Associated Press release the Obama administration defended criticism of the stimulus “economic recovery program” by touting the jobs created under the $2.4 billion “advanced battery” program:
Battery maker A123 Systems Inc. planned to open a new lithium ion battery plant Monday in Livonia, Mich. About 300 workers, many formerly laid-off auto workers, were to join Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Michigan lawmakers to promote their production of battery cells and components. The Watertown, Mass.-based company received $249 million under the stimulus program and plans to open a second facility next year in Romulus, Mich.
Automotive supplier Johnson Controls Inc. last week started shipping batteries that were made at a Holland, Mich., facility built with the help of $299 million in federal grants. The factory expects to employ 90 workers by late next year and could produce 75,000 to 150,000 batteries a year, depending on the mix of hybrid and electric vehicles it supplies.
So according to this release, only 390 jobs were created from the $548 million taxpayer investment, or about $1.4 million per job. At this rate, the full $2.4 billion allocated for the federal advanced battery program would create a whopping 1714 jobs. This is a far cry from the estimates cited in the article by Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, D-Mich, who said, “the federal battery program, along with state incentives, are projected to create 63,000 jobs in Michigan.”
Of course any job creation is a good thing, but it is laughable for the administration to use this particular program to debunk criticism of the stimulus spending. The $787B stimulus represents about $2625 for every man, woman, and child in America, and about $7500 for every taxpayer. It seems that the money would be better spent if returned directly to the citizens who can then go buy solar panels, or fuel efficient vehicles if they choose.