From Scott Carlberg

South Carolina and California. Not sure you could find states with the most divergent of viewpoints.

An interesting parallel struck me in a Wall Street Journal op-ed this week. Nevada Does a California is the title.

Local news story about the power/aluminum issue. WCSC-TV.

The thrust of the article – mandating renewable energy – is not the issue. One paragraph, though, screamed out about a South Carolina current event: The Santee Cooper and Century Aluminum issue.

Here’s the WSJ paragraph: “Higher electric costs in California have reduced job growth in power-hungry industries, especially manufacturing. Between January 2010 and January 2020, manufacturing employment has increased 6% in California versus 55% in Nevada. Many tech companies have located data centers in the Silver State because of its cheap, reliable power.”

LA Times: “…the evolving structure of our economy has exacerbated this calamity.”

Several points caught my eye:

  • Employment level increases are lower in California than in Nevada. Is it smart for a state not to maintain a healthy manufacturing skilled workforce? Can it be argued that manufacturing is an important enabler of service-related employment. Need to have your phones, vehicles, computer housings … to have a new-tech economy. Importing the goods can be done, but what about having the manufacturing smarts as part of a state’s intellectual capital?
  • Even new kinds of businesses – data centers – shun the California business environment. Some may question the reliability of a high renewable penetration; some renewables are intermittent power providers. That has to be addressed. Consider it all. The State with Silicon Valley is discouraging a bread-and-butter industry like data centers, in a sense a foundational notion of high tech. Disheartening one aspect of a high-tech and fundamental workforce speaks to other parts of that desired workforce. Not positive.

An LA Times story said of unemployment and slow-growing employment: “COVID-19 may be the primary cause of our current distress, but the evolving structure of our economy has exacerbated this calamity. The worst part is our state leaders should have known this all along.”

Take note.

There are certainly other issues circling the Santee Cooper and Century Aluminum debate. This warning sign from the other coast is worth noting and putting into the discussion.

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An FYI about economic impact. The headline: U.S. Aluminum Industry Employs 166,000 Americans; Drives $70 Billion in Economic Impact, from the Aluminum Association.