US Senators say gov't battery program spent $159,000 per job

WASHINGTON Wed Oct 31, 2012 2:56pm EDT

WASHINGTON Oct 31 (Reuters) - The Obama administration's investment in the advanced battery sector created just over 12,000 jobs, costing nearly $160,000 per position, according to an analysis from two Republican senators released on Wednesday.

Republicans have blasted President Barack Obama's efforts to jumpstart clean energy development, accusing the administration of wasting taxpayer dollars on well-connected companies with little hope of success.

The administration's advanced battery initiative, which awarded $2 billion in funding under the 2009 stimulus package to help expand U.S. manufacturing capacity, has come under fire in recent weeks after the bankruptcy of government-backed battery maker A123.

Using government data, Republican Senators Chuck Grassley and John Thune said the program created 12,613 jobs at a cost of $158,557 per job.

"The expense is significant, especially when many of the jobs were temporary," Grassley said in a statement. "The administration should not overstate the value of this program as a boon to economic recovery."

The Obama administration said the senators' analysis provided an incomplete assessment of the employment created by the battery program.

"It in no way is an accurate picture of the employment impact," said an Energy Department official.

The analysis captured only those jobs directly funded by the grants, such as construction workers that helped to build a new factory, the official said, but not those workers employed to help run plant after it is completed.