Several blog entries below this one -- from several days ago -- discussed the Spanish problem. No, not the Inquisition, the high-speed train they built so lavishly and for which they receive so much envy from us.
(See: 2/3/11 blog: The Trains in Spain Give Spain a Pain.)
The underlying facts about their much admired HSR system are rarely broadcast. Instead, all that the rail promoters cite is that Spain's train is a great example of what we also must do, here in the United States, to get ahead.
Well, maybe not. In Spain, a country in severe economic crisis, HSR may not have been the smart thing to do. There are serious downsides. Renewable energy, upon which they depend, has seen prices skyrocket. If jobs have been gained as a result of the train, more jobs have also been lost. The train seriously underserves the population (as it does everywhere else as well). It requires massive government subsidies to operate.
In short, it costs far too much, is too great a financial burden on the host country, and under-performs on every measure and category. In the US, which hasn't built any yet, HSR will be too expensive, and like in Spain, isn't needed. As we've said before, you can see that same realization evolving in China.
Apparently, the US isn't very good at learning it's lessons, either in school or from the wider world that we ought to be studying more carefully.
The Spanish example is a warning
Feb 6, 2011
BOB BREMS SR.
The president's State of the Union Speech
was thoughtful and well delivered. It was
optimistic and pretty much a litany of pie-
in-the-sky goals that are hard to disagree
with in principle; however, for two of his
major points, renewable energy and high
speed rail, we need only look to Spain to
see the path the president wants us to
travel leads to fiscal disaster.
Ten years ago, Spain made a government
commitment to greatly increase the amount
of electricity it obtained from renewable
sources. Today, it gets 30 percent of its
electrical energy from wind and solar.
Spain has achieved this with huge
government subsidies that now result in
Spain having some of the most expensive
electricity in Europe. Energy-intensive
industries have either closed or moved out
of the country. If solar-generated electricity
has been an expensive proposition in
sunny Spain, what will it be in cloudy Ohio?
Spain doesn't have a lot of fossil fuel
sources in the country, and so one can
understand why an emphasis was placed
on renewable energy there. The U.S.,
however, is fossil fuel rich with coal, oil and
gas reserves in abundance, which for
misguided reasons, the current
administration wants to shun. Pushing us
into costly renewable energy paths when
less expensive alternatives readily are
available is like forcing Cleveland to get its
potable water supply from desalination
plants located on the Atlantic coast. It is
something that could be done, but good
luck getting Clevelanders to accept that as
a good idea, much less pay for it.
In the process of expanding the generation
of renewable energy, Spain has become a
leader in solar and wind technology, and
Spanish companies are involved in the
proposed solar plant in Noble County.
However, a study by a Spanish economics
professor concluded that each green job
created by Spain's renewable energy
subsidies cost the Spanish consumers
$774,000 since 2000. In addition, it's
estimated that for every green job created,
2.2 other jobs were destroyed.
Spain also plunged into high speed rail and
now beats France in having the largest high
speed rail network in Europe. However,
only 3.5 million high speed rail trips are
taken per year in a country where 400
million rail trips are taken annually. Most
travelers still use their cars because the
high speed train is too expensive. As a
recent Spanish newspaper article said,
"The big difference between Spain and
other European countries is that the others
plan services while we just plan spending."
Spain now is the fourth European country in
line behind Greece, Ireland, and Portugal
most likely to default on its international
debts, and they started from a sound
national fiscal position 10 years ago. The
U.S. already is in poor fiscal condition, and
we have just begun to chase the renewable
energy and high-speed rail utopias that
have helped bring Spain to its knees.
Why would we do that?
Robert Brems Sr. is a citizen member of
the Coshocton Tribune Editorial Board.