Alexander Urges EPA to Ditch Proposal to Offer New Incentives to Big Wind

Tells EPA Administrator “there is no reason to provide additional incentives to build unreliable and unsightly wind turbines”

Posted on August 2, 2016

WASHINGTON, Aug. 2, 2016 – U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today urged the administration to reconsider a proposal to provide new incentives to wind power producers who are already benefiting from the 24-year-old wind production tax credit. Alexander also pointed out that the proposal fails to provide any incentive for nuclear energy – this country’s largest source of clean electricity.

“Wind developers have been getting rich on the backs of taxpayers and the wind production tax credit for over two decades, and there is no reason they should receive additional incentives to build unreliable and unsightly wind turbines,” Alexander wrote in a letter to Gina McCarthy, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, urging against the program’s proposed Clean Energy Incentive Program.

He continued: “Already, federal incentives for wind distort some electric power markets by giving wind an unfair advantage over other, more reliable and cost-competitive forms of electricity generation. The subsidy for Big Wind is already so generous that, at times, wind producers can give away their electricity and still make a profit. Providing further incentives to wind developers will only exacerbate this problem.”

EPA’s Clean Energy Incentive Program would give the wind industry a new benefit — the EPA and States would provide Emission Rate Credits for wind power producers who could then sell these credits to other carbon-emitting power producers. Wind developers already benefit from the wind production tax credit, which Congress extended for the 10th time in December. The extension, which continued the credit through 2019, will cost taxpayers more than $20 billion over 10 years, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation.

Sen. Alexander, who opposes subsidies for wind, a mature energy source, introduced legislation in July that would cut the wind production tax credit early, ending it on Jan. 1, 2017, and then use the $8.1 billion in savings to increase the authorized funding levels for basic energy research at the Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

The full letter Sen. Alexander sent to McCarthy is below:

Aug. 2, 2016

The Honorable Gina McCarthy
Administrator
Environmental Protection Agency
U.S. EPA Headquarters – William J. Clinton Building
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20460

 

Dear Administrator McCarthy,

I write to express serious concerns about the proposed Clean Energy Incentive Program which will provide duplicative, unnecessary, and harmful incentives for wind energy. 

Wind developers have been getting rich on the backs of taxpayers and the wind production tax credit for over two decades, and there is no reason they should receive additional incentives to build unreliable and unsightly wind turbines.   

In December, Congress decided to extend the wasteful wind production tax credit – for the tenth time – through 2019. According to the Joint Committee on Taxation, that extension will cost taxpayers more than $20 billion over 10 years. According to the Congressional Research Service, from 1992 to 2014, the production tax credit has already cost taxpayers $13.8 billion. From 2008 to 2014 alone, the wind production tax credit cost taxpayers $7.3 billion – more than $1 billion per year.

Already, federal incentives for wind distort some electric power markets by giving wind an unfair advantage over other, more reliable and cost-competitive forms of electricity generation. The subsidy for Big Wind is already so generous that, at times, wind producers can give away their electricity and still make a profit. Providing further incentives to wind developers will only exacerbate this problem.

Finally, the Clean Energy Incentive Program picks winners and losers because it fails to provide any incentive for nuclear energy – this country’s largest source of clean electricity. Nuclear power provides over 60% of our carbon free electricity and is available 92% of the time. Wind provides only 15% of our carbon free electricity, and that’s only when the wind blows – which is only about 35% of the time, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, and usually occurs at night, when we don’t need more electricity.

If reliable, cheap, and clean electricity is the goal, then nuclear energy should be incentivized instead of giant wind turbines that produce a puny amount of electricity at a great cost to taxpayers.

 

Sincerely,                    

                                                            Lamar Alexander                                             

                                                            United States Senator

 

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For access to this release and the senator’s other statements, click here.

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