Tuesday, April 17, 2012
LET’S STOP THAT HUGE FEDERAL WIND POWER SUBSIDY NOW
First: kudos to State Senator Pipken for his vocal opposition the O’Malley’s offshore wind farm subsidy – to be subsidized by Maryland’s electric power customers through a special tithe on their power bills. Hopefully, his statements have turned the tide; we may soon see if there’s a special session of the General Assembly to pass the new taxes that O’Malley wants to hit us with.
So much for the sublime, now on to the really ridiculous. In the past decade or so, there has been a huge federal subsidy – known as the “production tax credit” -- which provides a 2.2-cent per kilowatt-hour (kWh) subsidy for the first ten years of a wind energy facility's operation. It has resulted in very substantial investment in “wind farms” that generate power that is distributed to customers through the national “grid” system. But the notion that the power is “free” of either economic or environmental costs is nonsense. Not only are the huge towers and turbines (and related equipment) very costly to install and maintain, they are very unreliable as a source of energy, because electric power cannot be stored – there is no strategic kilowatt reserve.
Therefore, it is necessary to maintain and operate conventional (fossil-fuel) power plants when wind speed is minimal, and often (especially at night) the wind power is ample but cannot be used or marketed due to low demand at that time.
Fortunately, the “PCA” subsidy is set to expire on December 31. However, urged on by the Obama administration, certain members of Congress have sponsored legislation to extend it. But not all members. Here’s what Tennessee Senator, Lamar Alexander, an opponent of extension of the PCA recently had to say about extending the subsidy, which would maintain a big loophole for investment bankers, for the very wealthy, and for big corporations:
“We hear a lot of talk about federal subsidies for Big Oil. I would like to take a moment to talk about federal subsidies for Big Wind -- $27 billion over 10 years. That is the amount of Federal taxpayer dollars between 2007 and 2016, according to the Joint Tax Committee, that taxpayers will have given to wind developers across our country. This subsidy comes in the form of a production tax credit, renewable energy bonds, investment tax credits, federal grants, and accelerated appreciation. These are huge subsidies. The production tax credit itself has been there for 20 years. It was a temporary tax break put in the law in 1992.
"And what do we get in return for these billions of dollars of subsidies? We get a puny amount of unreliable electricity that arrives disproportionately at night when we don't need it. “Residents in community after community across America are finding out that these are not your grandma's windmills. These gigantic turbines, which look so pleasant on the television ads -- paid for by the people who are getting all the tax breaks -- look like an elephant when they are in your backyard. In fact, they are much bigger than an elephant. They are three times as tall as the sky boxes at Neyland Stadium, the University of Tennessee football stadium in Knoxville. They are taller than the Statue of Liberty. The blades are as wide as a football field is long, and you can see the blinking lights that are on top of these windmills for 20 miles. “In town after town, Americans are complaining about the noise and disturbance that come from these giant wind turbines in their backyards….
And, to that we add this:
Mr. Obama: are you listening – here’s a way to make those wealthy fat cats pay more taxes and protect to rest of us at the same time.
at 4/17/2012 03:45:00 PM