A Free-Market Energy Blog

“Why They Go Green” (WSJ editorial says much in few words)

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- September 23, 2010

When will Democrats and true environmentalists wake up to windpower, or what Robert Bryce calls the ethanol of electricity? Industrial wind is a scam when seen in all of its dimensions–economic, environmental, and esthetic. Bryce has identified five myths of green energy–and post after post at MasterResource by Kent Hawkins, Jon Boone, and John Droz Jr. have shown that meaningful CO2 reductions from windpower are highly debatable.

Industrial wind is chock full of environmental negatives and isn’t nearly as effective at reducing air emissions than advertised. Big Wind is  corporate welfare with companies like GE and FPL skipping their federal taxes. Wind today is the legacy of Enron, the Ken Lay model of political capitalism. Wind is an assault on lower-income energy users, not only taxpayers. (And Democrats are supposed to be for the little guy….)

Yet the Left marches onward with no inkling of a need–given their own purported values–to make midcourse corrections.

Industrial wind and on-grid solar were supposed to be competitive by now. Beginning in the 1980s, the (false) promises have come again and again from wind and solar proponents. Read the quotations here.

And now, desperation has set in for an industry that needs more government (point-of-a-gun) energy policy to continue its artificial boom. And so a fundraiser yesterday was held by the renewable lobby for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D. Nevada) that caught the eye of the Wall Street Journal, which published this short op-ed, Why They Go Green:

In a free energy market, companies succeed by producing cheaper, better products than competitors. In a “green” energy market, companies succeed by holding Beltway fundraisers. For more on the distinction, ask Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who will benefit today from a tony Washington money-raising breakfast hosted by top “renewable energy” industry groups.

Democrats may be losing altitude with most of struggling corporate America, but it’s all about the love with the green sector, floating above economic realities thanks to stimulus handouts and other perks funneled them by the majority. Mr. Reid has been a strong advocate of this transfer, and the industry is showing it knows how to give back.

That, and watching its back. The companies that belong to the American Wind Energy Association or the Solar Energy Industries Association (among the fundraiser’s hosts) produce costly products that can’t compete against traditional fuels. Their business plans are written around Washington subsidies and mandates. They’re obviously worried a Republican majority might pare back the grants, loans and tax credits, in the name of cutting government waste. One can hope.

As the event invitation noted—in requesting $2,500 to attend—Mr. Reid’s Nevada Senate competition against Republican Sharron Angle is an “incredibly important race.” Indeed it is if your balance sheets depend on the Democrats’ special way with taxpayer money.

Can Democrats and the Left wise up and chuck windpower and on-grid solar? (Off-grid solar has a free-market niche.) Industrial wind is an environmental loser, not only an economic loser. The good news is that change is in the air as the grassroots environmental movement is rethinking–and rejecting–industrial windpower. When will Big Environmental question Big Wind–or do they secretly love industrial wind because its power is more expensive and less reliable than what industrial society needs?

Strange values, strange politics.


  1. Breaking Wind – Quick hits from the industry for September 23, 2010 « Allegheny Treasures  

    […] “Why They Go Green” – MasterResource  (Thanks to Jon Boone) […]


  2. Jon Boone  

    Thanks, Rob. The let’s do lunch bunch for Reid is yet another galling example of how the smartest guys in the room continue to work the dumb and dumber. Sure, this kind of peddling has long been a part of the Washington scene. What is different is that what is peddled is dysfunctional, dystopean ware that neither promotes the general welfare nor makes us more productive. It is part of the marketing of pure fantasy greased by delusion, with politicians like Read serving as the bag man for corporate bunco. Pretty bad, even by government work standards.


  3. Steve C.  

    It’s become a truism in Washington that you can’t reduce the budget by cutting or eliminating spending unless you attack Social Security, Defense and Medicare.
    Question. Has anyone calculated the value of the annual subsidies given to “green” energy production? And just to forestall one line of comment, I don’t support special tax benefits for coal, oil, gas or nuclear power either. So feel free to toss those on the pile as well.


  4. nofreewind  

    What percentage of the nations energy does wind supply? Wind energy is measured in kWhrs or MWhrs, while overall energy use if often measured in Tons of Oil Equivalent (TOE).
    Download BP’s Statistical Review of World Energy here.
    Go to Primary Energy Consumption tab and see US consumes 2182 MillionTonOilEquivalent of energy.
    Go to the Wind tab and see that the US has 35,000 MW’s of installed wind capacity. The output is 25% per year for 8760 hours or 73.6 million MWhrs.
    Convert that MWhrs to TOE and the result is 6.3 Million TOE.
    Divide the 6.2 Wind MTOE into the 2182 total US consumption MTOE and the result is that wind supplied .3% of the US energy needs in 2009, or 1 in 300 parts of our energy needs.

    The Society of Petroleum website give a conversion factor of 1 TOE= 11,63,0 kWhrs.


  5. Glenn Schleede  

    Mr. Bradley,

    You are quite correct in lauding the individuals cited in your blog and commending the Wall Street Journal for its editorial recognizing, finally, that wrong-headed federal and state tax breaks and subsidies are enriching “wind farm” owners and their tax-equity partners from the financial industry at the expense of ordinary taxpayers.

    Please note, however, that massive tax breaks (accelerated depreciation, production tax credits, investment tax credit) and cash grants to the wind industry are not the only subsidies enjoyed by “wind farm” owners and their financial partners.

    Equally insidious subsidies for the wind industry are the state “Renewable Portfolio Standards” (RPS) and a national “Renewable Electricity Standard’ (RES) proposed in a bill introduced by Senators Bingaman (D-NM), Udall (D-CO), Brownback (R-KS), Dorgan (D-ND), Collins (R-ME), and Ensign (R-NV). Bingaman now claims 23 sponsors. The presence of even three Republicans on this bill and the large number of Republicans that have supported similar measures in the past demonstrates that that “Democrats and the left” are not the only legislators that are supporting unwise wind energy policies that cost taxpayers and electric customers billions of dollars.

    Everyone in the country who pays electricity for electricity should be frightened by the possibility that the US Congress will pass a national “Renewable Electricity Standard” requiring that some percentage (e.g., 15% in the newly introduced bill) of all electricity delivered in the US must be produced from wind or other “renewable” energy sources.

    Several European countries that embraced wind energy (though several are now backing away rapidly!) have demonstrated beyond any doubt that electricity bills are driven upward when utilities are forced to include high cost, low value electricity from wind in the electricity supplies they deliver.

    Nevertheless, the Bingaman bill is the kind of insidious subsidy that may appeal to both Republicans and Democrats in Congress who must deal with the massive deficits and debt now plaguing the nation because they may consider it a way to satisfy the renewable and financial industry lobbyists — and burnish their environmental credentials — without adding directly to the deficit.

    They may assume that their fingerprints won’t show up on high monthly electric bills because the high cost of electricity from wind and other renewables that utilities would be forced to meet Bingaman bill requirements will be passed along to electricity customers in higher electric bills rather than in higher taxes traceable to Congress.

    Undoubtedly, the wind industry will continue to lobby furiously for the proposed RES because:

    • They have, through stepped up lobbying campaign, tacitly admitted that wind will never be a commercially viable source of electricity and will always require massive subsidies.

    • They may fear that the nation’s desperate fiscal situation will make it difficult for Congress to extend the huge, existing tax breaks and subsidies.

    • They could continue to profit from high cost, low value “wind farms” because utilities would be forced by the Bingaman bill to pay the high costs of electricity from wind.

    • Industry lobbyists’ pockets are bulging with potential campaign contribution money as a result of existing tax breaks and subsidies, including nearly $5 billion in cash payments from the US Departments of Treasury and Energy paid during the past year from the infamous “stimulus” funds.

    Once the November elections are over, we will be able to tell whether the Republicans are serious about limiting the role of government, or whether they will decide to support Bingaman’s national RES bill that would drive up electric bills.


  6. Jon Boone  

    Thanks, nofreewind. It was characteristically kind of you not to mention that the 0.3% energy supplied from wind also provided no modern power or manageable capacity. Pretty neat trick for a technology that, over the last 30 years, has hauled in well over $20 billion from the public trough, subsidies justified to make this “NEW” energy kid on the block competitive with the bully boys of nuclear and fossil fuels. After all this time and money, one would have thought the runt would be standing tall, instead of taking its tin cup and monkey act to dine with Harry Reid in the Land of Liliput.

    Where is Chuck Jones and Looney Tunes when we need them so badly to more accurately chronicle the Huff and Puff for Wind? If Al Gore is “Huff,” who could we get to play “Puff?” A casting call, please.


  7. rbradley  

    Glenn Schleede is correct–there are some Republicans behind the wind racket also. This is a political problem of concentrated benefits and diffused costs, not just a Democrat or Republican problem.


  8. Cisse  

    Republicans like big government as much as Democrats, as demonstrated by actions, not words. Both are equally corporatist. They will not save us. We will only be saved when the governed withdraw their consent.


  9. Cooler Heads Digest 24 September 2010 | GlobalWarming.org  

    […] Why They Go Green Robert Bradley, MasterResource.org, 23 September 2010 […]


  10. Blowhards & Coruptocrats Blowin’ (your money) in the Wind Tax Credits at US Action News  

    […] all the “green” energy pie-in-the-sky promises that morally-bankrupt wind salesmen or crony-corruptocrats may offer in the name of The Wind Farm Scam, the incivility of erecting scores of useless machines […]


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