Global Cooling Puts Green Jobs On Ice - InformationWeek

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12/23/2010
10:33 AM
Paul McDougall
Paul McDougall
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Global Cooling Puts Green Jobs On Ice

With much of Europe buried under six-foot snow drifts, businesses and consumers aren't in the mood to spend big dollars on technologies that will make their lives even colder.

Talk about an inconvenient truth. The record winter blasting across Europe is freezing demand for products that are supposed to lower heat emissions, reduce energy use, and "save" the earth.

The big chill is also causing U.S. jobs cooked up through millions of dollars in federal swindle-us spending to disappear like snowmen in spring.

Case in point: Solar cell manufacturer SpectraWatt, an Intel spinoff that opened earlier this year in East Fishkill, New York, with the help of lots of scratch from the public coffers. At the ribbon cutting, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority president Francis Murray called SpectraWatt "a testament to the growing momentum of New York's clean energy economy."

U.S. labor secretary Hilda Solis noted that, "Green jobs pay ten to twenty percent more and will be home grown and not outsourced." And there was Marisa Lago, CEO of Empire State Development, who said the solar industry is "perhaps the fastest growing high technology industry in the world today."

That was nine months ago (or less than a year in geological time). On Tuesday, SpectraWatt filed a WARN notice with the New York State Department of Labor indicating it's closing the East Fishkill plant and is letting go its staff of 117 workers. The layoffs start in March.

"Reason for Dislocation: Economic," said the notice, which employers must file in the event of substantial headcount reductions.

The notice should also have said SpectraWatt's troubles are "climatological." The deep freeze affecting Germany—one of SpectraWatt's biggest markets--and other parts of Europe and the world has businesses and consumers questioning the whole notion of global warming and suddenly there isn't as much interest in pricey photovoltaic cells as there was less than a year ago.

"The market conditions are difficult," said SpectraWatt VP David O'Connor, in an interview with The Poughkeepsie Journal, "due to seasonality issues in the industry with respect to what's happening in Germany and in general due to both weather and incentives." O'Connor noted that the German government has quietly reduced the incentives it gives to businesses to go solar by 25%.

Not surprisingly, U.S. taxpayers—even in Blue states like New York--are getting sick of watching Obamacrats throw billions of dollars down the drain in an effort to create a whole new industry whose very existence is based on a theory of global warming that many researchers dismiss as junk science that's been propped up with phony baloney data.

"Our government, backed by environmental groups and others with a financial interest, are arm twisting folks into buying products and technology that aren't yet ready for the masses," said one reader from Poughkeepsie, hardly a Tea Party hotbed. "That's why you see all these tax credits and rebates for electric cars and such to force sales for these items that most of us don't want."

It's more than ironic that a publicly funded company that set up shop to build earth-friendly products to offset global warming has fallen victim to record low temperatures in its biggest market. But it may not be too late: Eco-bloviator Al Gore could single handedly save the green jobs industry by blowing out a few more metric tons of hot air during his next book tour. C'mon Al, the workers of East Fishkill are waiting for you to exhale.

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