Wind down wind subsidies

by Paul Driessen, Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow

A growing national coalition opposed to perpetuating industrial wind giveaways and mythical wind-power benefits has inspired thousands of Americans to call their senators and representatives – and defeat four different subsidy bills.

A shocked American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) began aggressively recruiting well-connected political operatives and co-sponsors, Republican and Democrat alike, who introduced more proposals to extend the production tax credit (PTC). It also launched parallel efforts in many state legislatures.

To confront AWEA claims, taxpayers and ratepayers should seek an education in wind energy….

Energy 101: It is impossible to have wind turbines without fossil fuels, especially natural gas. Turbines average only 30 percent of their “rated capacity,” and less than 5 percent on the hottest and coldest days, when electricity is needed most. Hydrocarbon-fired backup generators must run constantly, to avoid brownouts, blackouts and grid destabilization owing to constant surges and fall-offs in electricity to the grid.

Energy 201: Despite tens of billions in subsidies, wind turbines still generate less than 3 percent of U.S. electricity. Thankfully, conventional sources keep our country running – and America still has centuries of hydrocarbon resources, if only our government would make them available.

Economics 101: It is impossible to have wind turbines without perpetual subsidies – mostly borrowed from Chinese banks and future generations. There is no credible evidence that wind will be able to compete economically with traditional energy in the foreseeable future, especially with abundant natural gas costing one-fourth what it did just a few years ago. It makes more sense to rely on the plentiful, reliable, affordable electricity sources that have powered our economy for decades, build more coal and gas-fired generators – and recycle wind turbines into useful products (while preserving a few as museum exhibits).

Economics 201: As Spain, Germany, Britain and other countries have learned, wind-energy mandates and subsidies drive up the price of electricity – for families, factories, hospitals, schools, offices, churches and shops. That means two to four traditional jobs are lost for every wind or other “green” job created. It means the 37,000 jobs that the AWEA claims the U.S. wind industry creates (via $5 billion to $10 billion in combined annual subsidies, or $135,000 to $270,000 per wind job) are likely costing the United States 74,000 to 148,000 traditional jobs every year.

Environment 101: Industrial wind-turbine projects require enormous quantities of rare-earth metals, concrete, steel, copper, fiberglass and other raw materials; for highly inefficient turbines, multiple backup generators and thousands of miles of high-voltage transmission lines. Extracting and processing these materials, turning them into finished components, and shipping and installing the turbines and power lines involve enormous amounts of fossil fuel and extensive environmental damage.

Paul Driessen is senior policy advisor for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow and author of Eco-Imperialism: Green power – Black death.

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