Entries in Green Jobs (2)


Solyndra Bankruptcy Unlikely to Hamper Gov’t Investment in Green Jobs

Ken James/Bloomberg via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Two weeks ago, an American solar company declared bankruptcy.  It was one of three U.S. solar companies to go under in a month, but this one was special.

Solyndra, the solar panel manufacturer, risked losing as much as $528 million in taxpayer money the day it shuttered its Freemont, Calif., factory and is now calling into question the integrity of the government’s loan guarantee program for renewable energies.

But while the evidence continues to prove that gambling millions in taxpayer money on a company that made just $3 for a product that took $7 to produce was rather unwise, it doesn’t look like the one bad apple has ruined the whole orchard of green energy investments.

“I think renewable energy remains one of the best long-term investments one can make as long as you’re careful to pick your companies,” said Garvin Jabusch, chief investment officer at Green Alpha Advisers, which focuses on environmentally sustainable investments.  “If some companies go bankrupt, this is just normal capitalism.”

The Solyndra bankruptcy has inspired an investigation from the House Energy Committee, whose chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) said was a “classic case of fraud and abuse and waste.”

But the Energy Department argues the bankruptcy is not emblematic of the entire loan program.  The solar company loan represents about 1.3 percent of the entire loan guarantee program, which was a $2.4 billion initiative created under the 2009 Recovery Act to support the new green technology investments, which can be risky.  Under the program, the government does not actually pay out any money, but guarantees that if the company fails, the Treasury will repay the private loan.

“What this program is intended to do is leverage private sector capital towards innovative clean energy technology that can help American manufacturing remain competitive, but might not otherwise receive project financing on the open market,” said Damien LaVera, a spokesman for the Energy Department.  “Congress recognized that investing in innovative tech carries intrinsic amount of risk.”

The Solyndra bankruptcy is not symptomatic of the entire solar industry either, Jabusch said.  According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, the solar market nearly doubled from 2009 to 2010 and is anticipated to add about 24,000 jobs, a 26 percent increase, over the next year.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Work Is Scarce for Obama's Green Job Training Grads

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Despite new, government-funded green job training programs springing up across the U.S., there's still very few green jobs available for those who manage to graduate from the programs.

According to the most recent data from the BlueGreen Alliance and the Economic Policy Institute, there were 3,586 graduates of Department of Labor-funded green job training programs as of Sept. 30, 2010, but only 466 entered new jobs upon completion of the program.

The program is funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and geared toward helping unemployed workers, low-income individuals, high school dropouts or people with criminal records.  Stimulus money for green industry training was funneled through the Labor Department, which reports that $490 million out of the $500 million outlined in the Recovery Act has been awarded; most of the grants were awarded in January 2010.

But many of these training programs say the green jobs are not out there.

As of April 15, only 55 out of 304 green job training program graduates from Workforce Connection, a non-profit organization in Ocala, Florida, have found jobs.  And some of those jobs are not even green.  Workforce has spent about half of its $2.9 million grant and is now working with the Labor Department to modify it to focus more on placing graduates in jobs, rather than training.

Asheville Buncombe Christian Ministry, in Asheville, North Carolina, began a green job training program funded by stimulus dollars in March 2010.  As of April 15, ABCCM has placed 51 of its 111 graduates in jobs, not all of them green.

"As far as green jobs are concerned, the jobs are definitely not waiting there for the graduates," said Susan Garrett, ABCCM's Green Jobs Director.

In Pennsylvania, the Lehigh Valley Workforce Investment Board is seeing mixed results.  Its weatherization training program has had a high job placement rate, with 15 of its 23 graduates being employed, as of April 15.  But out of more than 100 participants in its "Pathways to Green Jobs" basic skills and green jobs training, only 22 are now employed.

LVWIB's executive director, Nancy Dischinat, said the economy has a lot to do with the lack of green jobs, but she remains optimistic.

"At least we have growth potential there.  We have projected openings," said Dischinat, referring to a report produced by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry that projects 41,190 new green jobs by 2012. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio