A news service for the people of Michigan from the Mackinac Center for Public Policy

A miniature wind turbine is featured in former Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s official portrait, which was unveiled at the state Capitol on Friday. According to media accounts, Granholm said that the turbine is a symbol “of her administration's efforts to rebuild the state's shattered manufacturing base through alternative energy.”

But a can of Planters Peanuts may have been a better choice. Confectionery and nut stores brought more jobs to the state in the past few years than wind and solar combined. Wind energy accounted for 45 jobs in 2008 and 31 jobs in 2009. In 2008, there were 315 jobs generated by the wind and solar industry in the state. By comparison, there were 350 jobs generated in confectionery and nut stores in the state in 2008.

All were but a tiny fraction of the state’s overall economy: Michigan has more than 4 million jobs. 

“Green energy hasn’t been the savior it has been hyped to be,” said James Hohman, Mackinac Center for Public Policy fiscal analyst.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics was not able to release 2009 data on wind and solar jobs.  Hohman said that’s generally because the data was focused on one facility or not enough facilities to meet privacy standards for reporting jobs.

Granholm said in September 2007 that wind energy would create jobs and help diversify the state’s job base.

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