by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The Green New Deal that Democrats unveiled last week has a grand ambition to eliminate fossil fuels in 10 years, retrofit every building in America, and guarantee high-paying jobs in the bargain. If you want to see how that works in the real world, consider the public housing projects near Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s New York office.
The New York City Housing Authority (Nycha) has a more modest goal of a 30% reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions by 2027. As part of its plan, Nycha is switching to LED lighting, which lasts longer than incandescent bulbs and consumes less energy. Sounds smart, until you see how many union workers it takes to screw in a light bulb.
One recent project focused on 23 housing developments, and changing the light bulbs and fixtures there cost $33.2 million. Supplies account for a fraction of that cost. Under Nycha’s Project Labor Agreement, electricians make $81 in base pay and $54 in fringe per hour, and overtime is usually time and a half. Add administrative and contracting expenses. All in, Nycha paid an average of $1,973 per apartment to install LEDs. …
… In the private economy, $1,973 could go a long way toward improving a dilapidated apartment. Only in the world of green government spending is replacing light bulbs for two grand a unit a cost-saving measure.