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Category — American Wind Energy Association (AWEA)

AWEA Spins Price Distortions to Save PTC (hit on nuclear clouds CO2 rationale)

“Negative prices are not the goal of any healthy economy, yet the PTC fosters this behavior at the expense of other, reliable generation. Building more infrastructure to correct for this problem is exactly the wrong thing to do.”

The last extension of the federal production tax credit (PTC) [1], its eighth in over twenty years, expired at the end of 2013 and the industry is again clamoring for another extension. But this time, big wind is facing a more sophisticated argument advanced by critics who contend that the PTC is artificially depressing wholesale power prices, disrupting market signals and undercutting more reliable generation including Exelon’s fleet of nuclear power plants.

Wind for nuclear–and in a way that increases greenhouse gas emissions, or certainly fails to reduce it?  The irony for climate policy has been noted by James Hansen who was informed that renewable-energy subsidies were intended to ”kill nuclear.” Wrote Matthew Wald in the New York Times:

To stave off climate change, sources of electricity that do not emit carbon will have to replace the ones that do. But at the moment, two of those largest sources, nuclear and wind power, are trying to kill each other off.

So much for wind power’s climate-change rationale.

Last month, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) released a detailed defense of wind arguing that its impact on energy prices is positive, with or without the PTC. But rather than making its case, AWEA’s rebuttal repeatedly misrepresented the rules governing competitive electricity markets and how out-of-market revenues impact energy prices. In this essay, we examine several of the assertions made by AWEA and show how they fall short.

Claim 1: Wind energy displaces the most expensive generation and decreases electricity prices. [Read more →]

April 15, 2014   2 Comments

Stagnating U.S. Wind (government addiction creates bubble symptoms)

“AWEA’s CEO Tom Kiernan bellyached last week that his people were exhausted by the ‘boom-bust’ behavior sparked each time the industry faced possible withdrawal of the PTC. He showed no remorse that big wind was still economically impotent despite decades of public handouts meant to stimulate self-growth.”

The U.S. wind power market has staggered this year, adding less than seventy (70) megawatts of new wind in the first three quarters. This is down from 4,743 megawatts installed during the same period in 2012.

Only three states reported wind expansions:

· California – Pattern Renewables added 42.7 MW to its controversial Ocotillo Wind Energy Facility;

· Colorado – Tri-State expanded its Colorado Highlands Wind Farm by 23.8 MW; and

· Alaska – Just 2 MW added.

The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) wasted no time blaming the precipitous drop in installations on uncertainty surrounding the wind production tax credit (PTC), the federal incentive most often credited for market growth in the sector.

That’s a convenient excuse that might resonate with sympathetic members of Congress, but it’s not accurate. [Read more →]

November 4, 2013   3 Comments

Why U.S. Wind Installations Are Slowing

“[AWEA says] utilities ‘see value of having 20-year contracts that provide electricity at lower costs than ever and that protect against volatility in fossil fuel prices.’ That’s a statement only a wind promoter could believe.”

This year, the wind industry added just 1.6 megawatts of new operating capacity in the United States, virtually unchanged (a 0.0027% increase) over 2012 installations.

The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) wasted no time blaming the precipitous drop in development on a lack of long-term, predictable federal policies, which in ‘wind speak’ means uncertainty surrounding extension of the federal production tax credit (PTC).

It’s true that incremental extensions of the PTC have had an impact on slowing wind development but other, more significant factors contributed to this year’s drop-off, the primary one being the expiration of Section 1603 cash grants.

The massive infusion of public cash lavished on big wind under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) changed the economics of the industry overnight. Projects that otherwise made no economic sense became viable with the grant money.

In other cases, applications were pushed up in order to take advantage of the handouts. The industry’s project pipeline was emptied by the end of 2012, and it could take several years before additional proposals reach the shovel-ready stage. [Read more →]

August 3, 2013   5 Comments

Wind Energy Cost: Think Again ($0.15/kWh wholesale prohibitively expensive)

“Once these hidden costs [of windpower] are included and subsidies are excluded, wind generation is not close to being competitive with conventional generation sources such as natural gas, coal or nuclear.”

- George Taylor, quoted below.

“However, to meet the 33% RPS, technical studies show ramp rates may triple, which is not possible for the [California] ISO’s conventional generation as configured today.”

- Clyde Loutan (Senior Advisor, CaISO), “How Intermittent Renewables Impact CallSO.”

George Taylor and I have published a new study for the American Tradition Institute (ATI) that finds that on a full cost basis, wind electricity is nearly twice as expensive as what is typically reported. “The Hidden Costs of Wind Electricityprovides an analysis of three major costs that past estimates have ignored.

“The costs that have been left out of previous reports are the costs of paying for the fossil-fired plants that must balance wind’s variations, the inefficiencies that wind imposes on those plants, and the cost of longer-distance transmission,” said Taylor in ATI’s press release.  “Once these hidden costs are included and subsidies are excluded, wind generation is not close to being competitive with conventional generation sources such as natural gas, coal or nuclear.”

Adding a conservative estimate of the hidden but real costs to the Energy Information Administration’s (EIA’s) and the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s most recent generation-cost reports increases wind’s projected cost from 8 cents to 15 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh).

AWEA’s Rebuttal: Misdirection I

Taylor and I summarized our findings in the Washington Times opinion-page editorial, “Blow off wind-production tax credit” (December 19, 2012). We described the Production Tax Credit (PTC) as a bad deal, imposing additional costs on consumers and taxpayers with no offsetting benefits.

Unsurprisingly, AWEA spokesman David Ward repeated some industry falsehoods in rebuttal to our piece. His assertions (in blue) are followed by my rebuttal. [Read more →]

January 8, 2013   13 Comments

Saving the Wind Industry: Henry Hazlitt’s Lesson Applied Today

“Economics is haunted by more fallacies than any other study known to man. This is no accident. The inherent difficulties of the subject would be great enough in any case, but they are multiplied a thousand fold by a factor that is insignificant in, say, physics, mathematics or medicine – the special pleading of selfish interests.”

- Henry Hazlitt, Economics in One Lesson (1946)

Henry Hazlitt (d. 1993) was born on this day in 1894. As has been done with other great classical liberal thinkers at MasterResource, this post celebrates Hazlitt’s birthday by applying his thinking to the current policy debate.

Specifically, Chapter 14 of Hazlitt’s book Economics in One Lesson, “Saving the X Industry,” despite being published in 1946, enlightens the current discussion about the wind production tax credit, which is set to expire at the end of this year unless Congress extends it.

I first read Hazlitt’s book while studying economics in college. It was a refreshing departure from the textbooks I was reading at the time, which were more numbers-focused and removed from reality. Economics in One Lesson is easy reading (some might say that’s because the truth is easy to understand), but for me it carried much more weight than the average textbook. It reframed my thinking and showed how widespread the broken window fallacy (the fallacy of believing that destruction creates positive net economic activity) is in our energy debates.

Economics in One Lesson traces through the many applications of the broken window fallacy, as they arose in past debates over economic policy. Those selfish interests repeated the same argument for nearly all industries that struggled to succeed in a competitive environment, so Hazlitt devoted a chapter to the “X” industry (the fill-in-the-blank industry). [Read more →]

November 28, 2012   3 Comments

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! [Read more →]

November 20, 2012   5 Comments

PTC Teeters, AWEA Whines, Romney Leads

“[Romney] will allow the wind credit to expire, end the stimulus boondoggles and create a level playing field on which all sources of energy can compete on their merits.”

- Romney campaign spokesman, “Wind Energy Tax Credit Splits Obama, Romney,” Des Moines Register, July 30, 2012.

The extension of the 20-year old Production Tax Credit (PTC) for windpower and other qualifying renewable energy is a wedge issue in the national political campaign. And with growing state-level pushback against government subsidies for qualifying renewables, it is time to ‘put-up-or-shut-up’ for on-grid wind and solar technologies.

And it was VERY good news that the Romney campaign issued a statement two days ago officially opposing an extension of the wind PTC. The other side wants him to walk it back, but few tangibles epitomize the fluff and failure of government-knows-best than taxpayer investments in wind power and solar power

AWEA: In Panic Mode 

Meanwhile, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) has pumped millions of dollars into a lobbying campaign to secure the PTC’s extension. It released the Navigant jobs study; funded a full-time media war room; and lined up President Obama, DOE’s Secretary Chu and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar as wind industry hucksters.

Coordinated endorsement letters signed by the Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition and brand name corporations were sent to Washington calling for immediate action while newspapers around the country published editorials rehashing the same talking points on why the PTC should be extended beyond 2012. [Read more →]

August 8, 2012   6 Comments

Wind Energy Jobs: Mysterious Numbers from AWEA (75,000 claim bogus)

“AWEA’s job figures, dating back to at least 2009, may be nothing more than figures pulled from thin air.”

The numero uno goal of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) is extending the Production Tax Credit (PTC) beyond its current expiration date of December 31, 2012. Documents available on the trade group’s website show that about $4 million of AWEA’s 2012 budget ($30 million) was directed toward PTC lobbying.

With job growth the top political issue in this election season, AWEA’s strategic plan calls for rebranding of the wind industry as an economic engine that will produce steady job growth, particularly in the manufacturing sector. But therein lies a problem: the wind industry’s own record on job growth lacks credibility.

Public information suggests that AWEA has inflated its overall job numbers.

Section 1603 Job Inflation

Seventy-five percent of the Section 1603 largesse was lavished on big wind, yet, despite billions of taxpayer dollars, this sector experienced a loss of 10,000 direct and indirect jobs in 2010. This lowers AWEA’s reported total to 75,000 jobs. [1]

In April, the DOE subsidiary National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) released its estimates of direct and indirect jobs created by wind projects receiving 1603 funding. The agency relied on the JEDI (‘Jobs and Economic Development Impacts’) model to estimate gross jobs, earnings, and economic output supported through the construction and operation of large wind projects.

But an investigation by the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations rightly objected to NREL’s conclusions. The Subcommittee found that NREL overstated the number of jobs created under 1603, that it failed to report on the more important net job creation, and ignored potential jobs that would be created given alternative spending of federal funds. The key sticking point was that NREL did not validate its models using actual data from completed projects. [Read more →]

July 10, 2012   15 Comments

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. [Read more →]

May 8, 2012   11 Comments

Dear Wind Industry: We Need Your Workers and Materials (and taxpayers need your cessation)

“The stakes here could not be clearer. Economic studies have shown that Congressional inaction on the PTC will kill 37,000 American jobs, shutter plants and cancel billions of dollars in private investment. Congress needs to understand that, with PTC uncertainty, layoffs have already begun and further job losses and even plant closings will accelerate each month as we near expiration in December.”

- Denise Bode, quoted in American Wind Energy Association, “As Wind Manufacturing Job Losses Loom, Bipartisan Wind Extension Drive Continues (February 16, 2012).

Three cheers for market-driven resource reallocation for personal and economic betterment.

Some of us can speak from personal experience. I was part of the 4,000-person layoff from Enron Corporation on Monday December 3, 2001. The economy became a little more efficient that day, as many started getting jobs at other energy companies and elsewhere where consumer demand was stronger.

Such is the ‘creative destruction’ of the market economy where the good replaces the bad, and where the even-better replaces the good.

The windpower industry is entering what could well be the beginning of a death cycle. Industrial wind is increasingly losing its special ratepayer and taxpayer support with democracies in deficit and consumers in search of cost and reliability advantages.

Judging from the ‘help wanted’ signs, the oil and gas industry stands ready to absorb the precious resources that have gone into the ‘Enron’ of energy sources. Some workers will need to be retrained, while others will find a closer integration of skills.

Perhaps even the employees of AWEA can become true environmentalists or libertarian to argue against ethanol and on-grid solar and light bulb mandates to close deficits and increase personal liberty. The pro-consumer, pro-taxpayer movement can always use a few more good women and men! [Read more →]

March 6, 2012   6 Comments