The Charleston (W.Va.) Daily Mail: Editorial: Zero out wind farm subsidy

Posted on September 27, 2012

*Also appeared in the Clarksville Leaf Chronicle

 

After 20 years, Congress likely will allow tax credits for wind turbines to expire on Dec. 31. Facing trillion-dollar annual deficits as far as the eye can see, the nation cannot afford the subsidies.

Federal revenues lost to this industry amounted to $14 billion over the last four years alone.

But 20 years of tax credits have failed to make wind power practical. The industry lives on subsidies.

As Ronald Bailey pointed out in reason.com, wind power generators collect a tax credit for every kilowatt-hour they produce whether utilities need the power or not.

"Today, the provision provides a credit against taxes of $22 per megawatt hour of energy generated," he said.

In a recent column in the Wall Street Journal, Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kansas, pointed out the ridiculousness of this.

Government largess "is so great that wind producers can actually pay the electrical grid to take their power when demand is low and still turn a profit by collecting the credit – and they are increasingly doing so."

And the tax credit for wind diverts investment from more reliable and proven technology, such as coal and nuclear power.

"Running coal and nuclear out of business is not good for the U.S. economy," they wrote.

"There is no way a country like this one – which uses 20 percent to 25 percent of all the electricity in the world – can operate with generators that turn only when the wind blows.

"Keeping a weak technology alive that can't make it on its own won't create nearly as many jobs as the private sector could create if it had the kind of low-cost, reliable, clean electricity that wind power simply can't generate," they said.

American industry needs reliable, affordable energy if it is to be competitive in the world market. Despite 20 years of subsidies, wind is not going to provide that any time soon.

It's time to let the tax credits expire, and save the American taxpayer $12 billion over the next 10 years.