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Westra Says Wind and Solar Don’t Create Enough Jobs to Receive Corporate Welfare Checks

Bob Mercer follows up and gets the Governor’s Office of Economic Development to tell us why the state rejected Triple H Wind Farm’s request for a tax kickback like the state has handed to other windfarms, CAFOs, AGP, 3M, Terex, and other big businesses. It appears wind and solar have fallen out of the ring of favored industries because they don’t create enough jobs:

Wind and solar energy projects are important factors in expanding renewable energy solutions. We support the renewable energy industry, but when we consider state incentives for such projects under the reinvestment payment program, it is important our incentive reflect the project’s overall impact. Going forward, we will be focused on ensuring incentivized projects, including the end-users of that power, create substantial job opportunities and economic activity in the State of South Dakota [GOED Commissioner Steve Westra, in Bob Mercer, “Westra Explains Why S.D. Board Denied Reinvestment Payment to Wind Farm,” KELO-TV, 2019.09.13].

As I noted last week, GOED dished out 85% of its FY2019 sales and use tax rebates to wind farms, surrendering $609,000 for each job the wind farms claimed to create or retain. Triple H says it will create seventeen to nineteen jobs.

AGP’s soybean plant in Aberdeen has gotten $6.2 million from the state to create 50 jobs, an average tax surrender of $125K per job.

If the government has any business picking winners in the marketplace, dishing out six-figure checks for each job created by a new business—essentially covering payroll for multiple years—is a bigger subsidy than any company deserves. We’ll see if Westra and his boss remember this jobs argument when TransCanada/TC Energy comes begging for a corporate welfare check to subsidize the maybe five or ten permanent jobs the Keystone XL pipeline will create in South Dakota. Then we’ll know if this new restraint is a genuine conservative revolution in South Dakota’s approach to corporate welfare or just a Trumpist whack at the green economy.


  1. Nick Nemec 2019-09-17 09:12

    Trump hates renewable energy, his gal Gov. Noem is simply taking her cues from the leader of the Republican Party.

  2. Robert McTaggart 2019-09-17 11:30

    Yes, I think one of those wind farms was projected to have like 15 permanent jobs.

    Can you believe it Cory, the nuclear power industry has a site that promotes the benefits of nuclear power…this interweb thing is amazing.

    Each nuclear power plant employs 400 to 700 workers, depending on the size. Something to consider if we are going to build power infrastructure in South Dakota because nobody wants to build anything near anybody.

    Nuclear worker salaries are 36% higher than the average local salary.
    For every 100 nuclear jobs, 66 are created in the local community.

  3. SAM2 2019-09-17 13:40

    I could not agree more it is time Wind Power and Ethanol be exposed for what they area rip off. This industry is not viable and never will be without tax payer subsidies.

    Ethanol is another scam that can not stand on it own.

    New Technology is making Wind Power and Ethanol obsolete.

    Make it stand on it’s own

  4. cibvet 2019-09-17 15:05

    Please elaborate on the new technology to make electricity and replace gasoline engines

  5. jerry 2019-09-17 16:36

    Did I hear subsidy? Of course I did. Big oil gets it big time, put that money into renewable energy and we would not be about to get our arse kicked in the sand box.

    “Adding everything up: $14.7 billion in federal subsidies and $5.8 billion in state-level incentives, for a total of $20.5 billion annually in corporate welfare. Of that total, 80 percent goes to oil and gas, 20 percent to coal.Oct 6, 2017”

    You’re welcome Sam2.

  6. jerry 2019-09-17 16:41

    BTW, why can’t Saudi Arabia take care of themselves? We send them billions in war game crap, and now they are in charge of our pentagon. What gives? They can bomb the crap out of wedding party’s and innocent civilians, why can’t they stand on their own mullah’s. Are we that corrupted?

  7. Robert McTaggart 2019-09-17 17:07

    Wind energy gets subsidies too, so I wouldn’t complain about subsidies. It gets first preference onto the grid too, so that is “picking a winner” in the game of winners and losers.

  8. Cathy 2019-09-17 19:08

    CAFOs don’t create many jobs unless you flood the state like Iowa did. And even then, they are crappy, low-wage jobs in an industry that destroys the environment.

  9. Debbo 2019-09-17 21:02

    The SDGOP is paying $125,000 – $609,000 per job?!? 😲😲 What? Did I read that right? Look NoMa’am, just give me the $609,000 and I’ll live in SD and invite my friends.

  10. jerry 2019-09-17 21:08

    Westra’s new job then is to watch the power lines and make sure that the current from wind does not go into the line faster than coal…Way to think things through doc. What happens if they somehow tie?

    Wonder how much subsidy Westra has received?

  11. jerry 2019-09-17 21:34

    Here is how the United States government cares about climate change. We are pitiful without a doubt. We can kill without issue but we cannot allow a 17 year old, UN invited student, to enter this country. Fits right into Westra’s wheelhouse, what a louse he is.

    “An Afghan student invited to attend the first United Nations youth climate summit in New York has been denied a US visa.

    Nasratullah Elham, 17, was selected as one of 100 “Green Ticket” winners out of 7,000 applicants to take part in the UN summit that takes place on Saturday.

    The summit aims to bring together more than 500 young climate activists around the world to showcase their solutions and raise awareness about tackling climate change.”

  12. Debbo 2019-09-18 15:58

    Someone is in the early stages of figuring out how to harvest energy from the dark. The NY Times has the story:

    “The prototype built by Dr. Raman resembles a hockey puck set inside a chafing dish. The puck is a polystyrene disk coated in black paint and covered with a wind shield. At its heart is an off-the shelf gadget called a thermoelectric generator, which uses the difference in temperature between opposite sides of the device to generate a current. A similar device powers NASA’s Curiosity rover on Mars; its thermoelectric generator derives heat from plutonium radiation.

    “Usually, the temperature difference in these generators is stark, and they are carefully engineered to separate hot and cold. Dr. Raman’s device instead uses the atmosphere’s ambient temperature as the heat source. The shift from warm to cool is very slight, meaning the device can’t produce much power.”

    “One challenge will be improving the device’s efficiency without raising its costs, said Lance Wheeler, a materials scientist at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colo. Although thermoelectric devices are less efficient and more expensive than photovoltaic cells, they can be more durable.

    “You could call this a long play,” he said. “It is just a piece of metal with spray paint on it. It could last for a super long time, and its rivals, photovoltaic cells and batteries, don’t. It can enhance any thermoelectric device as long as it’s outside facing the stars.”

  13. Robert McTaggart 2019-09-18 17:25


    Thermoelectric devices make more sense when the amount of heat is larger, like from a car engine or from a power plant. So if they advance they could enhance efficiencies for both of those things.

    The thermoelectric generators for NASA use radioisotopic decay to generate the heat. Heat from nuclear is nuclear energy :^). Once you get to the outer planets, solar is not energy dense enough. One would need a large solar concentrator….but nobody can build one big enough yet. The only good news there is that space is empty and you do not have to worry about weight….once you get off of earth.

    Using thermoelectric devices with nuclear waste would generate a lot more energy than the open atmosphere would.

  14. Robert McTaggart 2019-09-18 17:52


    Coal plants face the same issues that nuclear plants do with regard to renewables’ impact on the electricity markets. Both are capable of 24/7 baseload, but when there is an excess of renewable energy, the operating costs do not go down when the prices go down.

    If renewables are permitted to generate energy without having to respond to a demand (like today), then one option is to operate the other power plants outside of their normal baseload capabilities.

    The real question is whether they make money by running a nuclear plant or a coal plant in a flexible capacity. They can operate flexibly with nuclear….not so sure about coal.

    The other option is to use energy storage to help baseload power plants. Store the energy for later when renewables are not enough. We don’t have the requisite storage capability today, but cost will be an issue there too.

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