Those rascally wind critics are at it again. This from RealClearEnergy.org: Thomas Pyle, president of the American Energy Alliance, is not at all happy about wind’s success. He (mistakenly) says it comes through a series of tax subsidies that are giving wind a huge advantage at the expense of taxpayers.
Here’s how he makes his case in the Roanoke Times: “Virginians are learning a hard lesson on the dirty business of clean energy. Virginia families fork over at least $72.7 million annually in subsidies for multinational corporations to experiment with wind energy at taxpayers’ expense. This corporate welfare harms Virginians, but it enriches the industrial wind industry. Late last year, national wind lobbyists secured an extension of a massive tax subsidy known as the Production Tax Credit. The PTC gives wind producers a subsidy of 2.3 cents for every kilowatt-hour of electricity produced. The one-year extension will cost taxpayers an estimated $6.4 billion over the next decade. When the taxman cometh, the wind industry rejoices.”
Let’s give Mr. Pyle credit for getting one thing right (sadly, only one thing): The PTC does provide wind farm owners 2.3 ¢/kWh for every kilowatt-hour produced. However, what he declined to say is that Virginia residents – or residents of any state that benefits from wind generated power – don’t pay one copper cent more for wind power. Mr. Pyle omits the small but significant detail that the PTC is a tax credit, just like the tax credit that millions of home owners take advantage of. That is, wind-farm owners get to keep a little more of the profits they have earned. So as anyone can see, the PTC rewards production. Why that is bad, Mr. Pyle does not explain. Even his headline: “When the taxman cometh, the wind industry rejoices” is dishonest. To be clear: The tax man taketh, he does not giveth away.
What home owners who buy wind-generated power would like to know is the prices that a wind-farm owner sells
power to the local utility, or the prices paid to any independent power provider. I hear utilities pay 3 to 5¢/kWh for wind-generated power. That’s not bad. Here in the eastern part of the Midwest we pay 6.5 ¢/kWh for the conventional generation of power and another 6 ¢/kWh for transmission. Ask also about the cost of power from a gas-fired plant or a nuclear plant. The gas-fired plant is probably a bit less and the nuclear plant is a bit more.
So the wind industry is actually providing an invaluable competitive service for keeping power costs down. Who knows what the cost of natural gas or uranium will be in 5 or 10 years? But right now, you know the cost of fuel to drive a wind turbine today, in 5 years, and in 20 years. It will be zero.
Renew the Production Tax Credit and make energy independence a real goal.
Filed Under: Policy