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Big Wind Subsidies: Time to Terminate?

Ending industrial wind subsidies is a quadruple win: it fosters real jobs, promotes economic growth, protects endangered species, and elevates environmental values over image-making.

The public is coming to this view, not only energy realists. In the face of repeated efforts to extend (seemingly perpetual) wind energy subsidies by industry lobbyists, taxpayers and grass root environmentalists have said: ENOUGH.

Informed and inspired by a loose but growing national coalition of groups opposed to more giveaways with no scientifically proven net benefits, thousands of citizens called their senators and representatives – and rounded up enough Nay votes to run four different bills aground. For once, democracy worked.

A shocked American Wind Energy Association and its allies began even more aggressive recruiting of well-connected Democrat and Republican political operatives and cosponsors – and introducing more proposals like HR 3307 to extend the Production Tax Credit (PTC).

Parallel efforts were launched in state legislatures, to maintain mandates, subsidies, feed-in tariffs, renewable energy credits, and other “temporary” ratepayer and taxpayer obligations.

This “emerging industry” is “vitally important” to our energy future, supporters insisted. It provides “clean energy” and “over 37,000” jobs that “states can’t afford to lose.” It helps prevent global warming.

None of these sales pitches holds up under objective scrutiny, and their growing awareness of this basic reality has finally made many in Congress inclined to eliminate this wasteful spending on wind power.

Entitlement advocates are petrified at that possibility. Crony corporatist lobbyists and politicians have built a small army to take on beleaguered taxpayers, rate payers and business owners who say America can no longer afford to spend more borrowed money, to prop up energy policies that drive up electricity costs, damage the environment, and primarily benefit foreign conglomerates and a privileged few.

To confront the growing onslaught of wind industry pressure and propaganda, citizens should understand the fundamental facts about wind energy. Here are some of the top reasons for opposing further handouts.

Energy 101. It is impossible to have wind turbines without fossil fuels, especially natural gas. Turbines average only 30% of their “rated capacity” – and less than 5% on the hottest and coldest days, when electricity is needed most. They produce excessive electricity when it is least needed, and electricity cannot be stored for later use. Hydrocarbon-fired backup generators must run constantly, to fill the gap and avoid brownouts, blackouts, and grid destabilization due to constant surges and falloffs in electricity to the grid. Wind turbines frequently draw electricity from the grid, to keep blades turning when the wind is not blowing, reduce strain on turbine gears, and prevent icing during periods of winter calm.

Energy 201.Despite tens of billions in subsidies, wind turbines still generate less than 3% of US electricity. Thankfully, conventional sources keep our country running – and America still has centuries of hydrocarbon resources. It’s time our government allowed us to develop and use those resources.

Economics 101.It is likewise impossible to have wind turbines without perpetual subsidies – mostly money borrowed from Chinese banks and future generations. Wind has never been able to compete economically with traditional energy, and there is no credible evidence that it will be able to in the foreseeable future, especially with abundant natural gas costing one-fourth what it did just a few years ago. It thus makes far more sense to rely on the plentiful, reliable, affordable electricity sources that have powered our economy for decades, build more 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 and shops. They squeeze budgets and cost jobs. Indeed, studies have found that two to four traditional jobs are lostfor every wind or other “green” job created. That means the supposed 37,000 jobs (perpetuated by $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 158,000 traditional jobs, while diverting billions from far more productive uses.

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. Offshore wind turbine projects are even more expensive, resource intensive and indefensible. Calling wind energy “clean” or “eco-friendly” is an extraordinary distortion of the facts.

Environment 201. Wind turbines, transmission lines and backup generators also require vast amounts of crop, scenic and wildlife habitat land. Where a typical 600-megawatt coal or gas-fired power plant requires 250-750 acres, to generate power 90-95% of the year, a 600-MW wind installation needs 40,000 to 50,000 acres (or more), to deliver 30% performance. And while gas, coal and nuclear plants can be built close to cities, wind installations must go where the wind blows, typically hundreds of miles away – adding thousands of additional acres to every project for transmission lines.

Environment 301. Sometimes referred to as “Cuisinartsof the air,” U.S. wind turbines also slaughter nearly half a million eagles, hawks, falcons, vultures, ducks, geese, bats and other rare, threatened, endangered and otherwise protected flying creatures every year. (This may be a very conservative number, as coyotes and turbine operator cleanup crews remove much of the evidence.) And yet, while oil companies are prosecuted for the deaths of even a dozen common birds, turbine operators have been granted a blanket exemption from endangered and migratory species laws and penalties. Now the US Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing a formal rule to allow repeated “takings” (killings) of bald and golden eagles by wind turbines – in effect granting operators a 007 license to kill.

Environment 401. Scientific support for CO2-driven catastrophic manmade global warming continues to diminish. Even if carbon dioxide does contribute to climate change, there is no evidence that even thousands of US wind turbines will affect future global temperatures by more than a few hundredths of a degree. Not only do CO2 emissions from backup generators (and wind turbine manufacturing) offset any reductions by the turbines, but rapidly increasing emissions from Brazil, China, India, Indonesia and other rapidly developing countries dwarf any possible US wind-related CO2 reductions.

Human Health and Welfare 101. Skyrocketing electricity prices due to “renewable portfolio standards” raise heating and air conditioning costs; drive families into fuel poverty; increase food, medical, school and other costs; and force companies to lay off workers, further impairing their families’ health and welfare. The strobe-light effect, annoying audible noise, and inaudible low-frequency sound from whirling blades result in nervous fatigue, headaches, dizziness, irritability, sleep problems, and vibro-acoustic effects on people’s hearts and lungs.

Land owners receive royalties for having turbines on their property, but neighbors receive no income and face adverse health effects, decreased property values and difficulty selling their homes. Once close-knit communities are torn apart.

Real World Civics 101. Politicians take billions from taxpayers, ratepayers and profitable businesses, to provide subsidies to Big Wind companies, who buy Made Somewhere Else turbines – and then contribute millions to the politicians’ reelection campaigns, to keep the incestuous cycle going.

It is truly government gone wild – GSA on steroids. It is unsustainable. It is a classic sWINDle.

Expect citizens to contact senators, congressmen, congressional committees, and state representatives to demand science-based energy policies. There are plenty of good reasons why.

___________

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

11 comments

1 Paul Driessen: Big Wind Subsidies: Time to Terminate? | JunkScience.com { 05.08.12 at 7:28 am }

[...] MasterResource Share this:PrintEmailMoreStumbleUponTwitterFacebookDiggRedditLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. This entry was posted in Clean energy and tagged energy subsidies, government subsidies, Wind power. Bookmark the permalink. ← Dinosaur Fart Global Warming Paper is a Load of Crap [...]

2 Rolf Westgard { 05.08.12 at 9:28 am }

Well stated, Master Resource.

3 Big Wind Subsidies: Time to Terminate? — MasterResource « WIND CONCERNS ONTARIO: On Wordpress { 05.08.12 at 10:18 am }

[...] Big Wind Subsidies: Time to Terminate? — MasterResource: Ending industrial wind subsidies is a quadruple win: it fosters real jobs, promotes economic growth, protects endangered species, and elevates environmental values over image-making. [...]

4 thebiggreenlie { 05.08.12 at 11:43 am }

The Wind Scam has been “outed” and one would expect the whole thing to crumble into dust but the amount of harm already done world-wide should bring with it the massive criminal prosecutions that these Wind Scammers should endure!

5 ill wind { 05.09.12 at 7:40 am }

Aren’t you forgetting that wind turbines run on ” smug ” ?

6 R. L. Hails Sr. P. E. { 05.09.12 at 1:40 pm }

There are several lies about energy and energy subsidies which need to be exposed. Due to inherent technical weaknesses, none of the green energies can compete with fossil fuels and uranium. The cost differentials are attacked by environmentalists by larding on costs to the “bad”, cheap energies, either by regulation or an undefinable value, externality costs. In addition they spread the added energy costs to all taxpayers via subsidies. Since taxpayers and light bill payers are essentially the same population, our only real choice is paying in taxes, or the electric bill. Another disingenuous charge, that giant energy companies enjoy huge subsidies, essentially are the tax loop holes available to all industries. It may be legitimate that all industries lose their tax benefits, but singling out one industry for persecution, is irrational.

There is one industry, civilian nuclear power, which deserves special, if honest, debate. Much of America’s development costs stem from weapons, how much should be accounted to civilian technology? I would pay to use fission to heat the baby’s room, and not evaporate its city. And lastly, this industry is shielded from enormous accident liability by the Price Anderson act. It was once thought that one exploded nuke might cripple a large portion of the US. But the cap limit is absurd in the face of other actual industrial accidents: Bhopal, Three Mile Island, Fukushima, and the BP well blow out. This risk can now be scoped, and carried by the folks who make money on the technology.

The days of jacking up my competitors cost structure, while feathering my nest, must end. Or America will go out of business.

7 May 10, 2012 | Another Slow News Day { 05.09.12 at 9:21 pm }
8 Gil { 05.11.12 at 11:26 am }

It is said the larger the blade the less dangerous it is to bird because the blade moves slower. Hence if wind turbines must be banned then so too should windmills be banished from farms.

9 Byron Wooldridge { 05.15.12 at 12:21 pm }

@Gil,
Whoever told you that the larger blades are less dangerous to birds because they move slower was incorrect. The larger turbine will have a lower RPM (revolutions per minute) but the tip speed is the same as a smaller diameter turbine turning higher RPM. It is the feet per second velocity of the blade near the tip that is the killer.

10 Recent Energy and Environmental News – 15 May 2012 « PA Pundits – International { 05.16.12 at 5:02 am }

[...] This is a summary of the situation from a DC attendee, and here is another. [...]

11 Latest News 5/15 From John Droz « Save Our SeaShore { 05.16.12 at 11:15 am }

[...] This is a summary of the situation from a DC attendee, and here is another. [...]

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