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Wind PTC: Facts vs Fluff

“AWEA says that Congress should provide a tax credit for high-income earners to pay less than their “fair share,” while middle-class taxpayers borrow $12+ billion from China to subsidize an expensive, unreliable, environmentally destructive, alternative energy source, based on unsubstantiated claims, that will actually result in net job losses! Exactly why is that a good idea?”

Last week, head wind lobbyist, Denise Bode (AWEA), waxed eloquently about why extending the wind Production Tax Credit (PTC) is a splendid scheme that some of our legislators are supposedly supporting.

This immediately brings to mind Upton Sinclair’s insightful observation: “A man cannot be expected to understand something when his income depends on his not understanding it.”

Put another way, when a salesperson says their product is the cat’s meow, be careful that you don’t get caught in the claws.

‘All of the Above’: Caveat emptor

Denise says that an “All of the Above” energy policy is a terrific plan — but is it?

Let’s skip the hype and do some critical thinking about this for a minute, and see if this superficial sound-bite is sensible.

If we use all energy sources, that would include expensive sources — how is that a good idea?
If we use all energy sources, that would include unreliable sources — how is that a good idea?
If we use all energy sources, that would include environmentally destructive sources — how is that a good idea?

If you are connecting the dots here, you can now understand why Denise loves the “All of the Above” slogan — as (surprise!) such a lax directive would qualify her expensive, unreliable and environmentally destructive product to be included in our energy mix!

It’s not paying sufficient attention to details like these that gets us into trouble. We then spend a lot of money, time and effort — and 20 years down the road we say: how come we have so little to show for our sacrifices?

We have many conscientious and competent representatives, but they repeatedly get bamboozled. How come? It’s not really rocket science: they are flim-flammed because they have been inundated by incessant one-sided, unverified, marketing propaganda. Most of us would be fooled too.

Energy is a technical matter and our policy decisions should be based on real science, not sales pitches from peddlers. So far (with regards to our energy policies) genuine science is being held scoreless.

What Are They Not Talking About?

Here are some other PTC tidbits (see PTCFacts.Info) that those smooth-talking AWEA hucksters won’t be mentioning…

A one year extension of the PTC will cost taxpayers over $12 Billionhow is that a good idea?
All that $12+ Billion will put us that much further in debt — how is that a good idea?
Almost all of that $12+ Billion will be borrowed from China — how is that a good idea?
A large part of that $12+ Billion will go to foreign conglomerates — how is that a good idea?

Yes, we know that the PTC is a tax credit — but what is that really? Basically, a tax credit enables high-income taxpayers to pay less tax. But wait a minute! Aren’t the Democrats committed to having higher income taxpayers pay more tax to carry their “fair share”? Extending the PTC does exactly the opposite — so how can Democrats say that this is a good idea?

And the AWEA job numbers bandied about have never been transparently presented, or independently verified to be accurate. For instance, while they claim that there are 7000± wind jobs in Iowa (the most for any state), independent experts have only been able to identify around 2000.

When AWEA is asked to prove their numbers, they decline to provide the evidence. So Congress should simply take a hustler’s word for something as important as jobs? How is that a good idea?
Wind energy often provides less than 30% of its rated capacity — but their salespeople deceptively imply that puff power has some equivalence to full-time sources of electricity (e.g. that it will replace coal facilities).

Interestingly, the Iowa employment figure of 2000 vs 7000 appears to be less than 30% accurate. Evidently AWEA thinks 30% is close enough to 100% to call it even with performance and jobs.

Even if their wildly speculative job claims were true, a one year PTC extension would amount to some $325,000 per job — how is that a good idea?

Actually, even more to the point, independent experts have repeatedly shown that wind energy is a net jobs loser! (This is due to a variety of proven consequences — like the higher actual costs of wind electricity resulting in other businesses laying off employees.) Isn’t the NET jobs situation really important?

Conclusion

So let’s discard AWEA’s palliative pablum and condense this down to the prime points here…

AWEA says that Congress should provide a tax credit for high-income earners to pay less than their “fair share,” while middle-class taxpayers borrow $12+ Billion from China, to subsidize an expensive, unreliable, environmentally destructive, alternative energy source, based on unsubstantiated claims, that will actually result in net job losses! Exactly why is that a good idea?

So what should be our energy policy? How about “All of the Sensible”?

Since the real consequences of extending the PTC are anything but sensible, you can be sure that AWEA will not be advocating that strategy!

5 comments

1 Tom Tanton { 11.20.12 at 6:38 am }

Well done John. “All of the sensible” makes, well, sense. The other half is “how”…and what makes sense to one doesn’t to another. The only real way to have “all the sensible” is for government to get out of the manipulative endeavor.

2 Tauna Christensen { 11.22.12 at 2:36 pm }

Yes, we’ve heard a lot lately about Obama and the Democrats wanting to raise taxes on the rich so they can pay their “fair share”.

The PTC is Obama’s TAX BREAK for some of the world’s largest corporations including those heavily involved in fossil fuels, e.g. British Petroleum and E.ON who sit on AWEA’s Board of Directors . And as reported by Ernst & Young “nearly half of the world’s largest corporations plan to moderately or significantly increase investment in renewable energy over the next five years.” We have MORE siphoning to look forward to.
http://www.awea.org/newsroom/pressreleases/120613Microsoft_Sprint.cfm

As Jon Boone has often said wind’s rent seeking is all about tax avoidance. An example of what that looks like: In April 2009, BusinessWeek reported that the FPL Group had dropped their corporate tax rate of 35% down to 1.3% — made possible by their investment in alternative energy. (http://www.readperiodicals.com/201011/2187787201.html see “the driving force”)

35% down to 1.3% — That is significant. Interesting that Obama et al consider this “fair”.

Anyway — the PTC: Obama’s tax break for the world’s largest corporations while the burden falls to the middle class and small businesses. And in return, we get higher electricity rates! (Obama needs to check his “fairness” meter). It’s a sure way to kill an economy. Just look to Obama’s once-touted Spain.

3 John Droz { 11.23.12 at 10:30 am }

Vladislaw:

To begin with I never said “Every borrowed dollar of the United States is coming from China”.

Secondly, your figures about the past do not address where future deficit spending funds would come from. It is certainly reasonable to speculate that a significant amount will be from China.

If you have unequivocal proof that it will be otherwise, I’d certainly be glad to see it.

Lastly, even if less than half of the PTC $12+ Billion ended up being borrowed from China, that would not change anything about the overwhelming negatives of extending the PTC.

4 Wind Production Tax Credit Extension: Issues : Wind Power for Home Zone { 11.24.12 at 4:43 am }

[...] With all of the endorsement for wind production tax credit extension, we want to see the flip side. Check ptcfacts.info. There are some sobering information there. I’m not a big believer of conspiracy theory or anything like that, but I think, the question, “Why should we extend PTC?” needs to be answered properly and objectively. Here’s some disturbing question about PTC extension as John Droz, Jr. reported for MasterResource. [...]

5 jack sullivan { 12.20.12 at 7:55 am }

I believe that here in the wind poor reaches of Northern NY where local wind projects sit producing NOTHING for the equivalent of 50+ days annually and run about 20% c.f. the only reason for building them was the PTC and NY’s RPS. Based on producing reliable ,usable power they should never have been built.

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