AWEA CEO Denise Bode recently wrote a little rant on the AWEA blog regarding federal energy subsidies. While it is a good article and I agree with many of the points, as I’ve pointed out before, it’s just not the whole story. I’m continually surprised by the lack of impartiality that runs rampant through the organization. Now, I don’t want to give the impression that I don’t believe AWEA does a good job supporting renewable energy policy and development, I just wish they would do a better job portraying the whole story. They are after all influential thought-leaders and many people will take their story as complete truth.
In this case, and in many before it, the subject falls to the subsidies that traditional energy producers receive. The thought being, why should the American public pay tax dollars to incentivize the production of dirty, carbon-based fuels? And why does the federal government pay billions of dollars to support a waning industry while the waxing “renewables” industry is struggling to stay afloat?
These are both very valid questions and questions that truly should be considered by congress, but what will the effect be? Let’s assume Congress does decide to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies, how high do you think gas prices would jump then? $5.00/gal…$6.00…more? Also, when was the last time you looked at your December gas bill and thought, “I sure wish this thing were higher. Natural gas is just too cheap!”
It seems people don’t realize that subsidies keep costs down. So let me just make everyone aware, subsidies keep costs down. I know, repetitive right? Well, it’s important to realize. It’s also important to realize that members of Congress are elected to keep their constituents happy. I for one know that I wouldn’t be very happy with my congressman if his vote led to a 40% increase in gas prices.
This brings me to the root of my thought, why does AWEA continue to fight to drop traditional energy subsidies? It’s a loosing battle. It seems so much more logical to leave this 100-year tradition in place while adding subsidies for renewable energy. Proportionally, renewable energy is far cheaper to fund than traditional energy, so it’s not like their lobbyists would be asking for large sums of money (if you call a few billion a small sum). Doesn’t it seem like a plan like this would be more likely to pass? It may not be ideal, but it’s achievable, so let’s go for it.
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