A Free-Market Energy Blog

DOE-designate Perry’s Windy Past (Texas, per-Enron, a wind welfare queen)

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- December 14, 2016

“Added Paul Sadler, executive director of the Wind Coalition, in the New York Times: ‘He [Perry] has been a stalwart in defense of wind energy in this state — no question about it.’”

– Quoted in Kate Galbraith, “As Governor, Perry Backed Wind, Gas and Coal.” New York Times, August 20, 2011.

MasterResource, which plays no (crony) favorites, has been critical of Rick (‘all-energy-things-to-all people’) Perry. Sort of sounds like a politician on the move who wants to fill his political coffers with green money too.

With the news that former Texas Governor Perry is the secretary-designate for the US Department of Energy, I share some quotations from past posts at MasterResource on his pro-wind tenure in Texas. Comments welcome.

“Arguably, Mr. Perry’s most interesting energy efforts have related to wind power, which has boomed under his administration. Today, after a decade of rapid growth, Texas is the nation’s wind leader. The groundwork was laid by Mr. Bush, who in 1999 signed a bill that … established a renewable-energy requirement that kick-started wind development. But Mr. Perry has added to that. In 2005, he signed a bill requiring Texas to have 5,880 megawatts of renewables capacity by 2015. The state has already surpassed that requirement.”

-Kate Galbraith, “As Governor, Perry Backed Wind, Gas and Coal.” New York Times, August 20, 2011.

“It should be remembered that Gov. Perry has championed Obama/EPA/Big Green energy policy by advancing wind power with both pen and pulpit. Ironically, but in keeping with Big Government Republicanism, Perry continued the policy of Gov. George W. Bush, who fathered Texas’s 1999 law requiring the state’s electricity retailers to purchase a certain amount of their energy from qualifying renewables, wind power being the most economical. This mandate, enacted with the crucial help of Enron lobbyists, was increased in 2002 with a powerful wind lobby at work, which made Texas the leading windpower state in the country, passing California.”

– Robert Bradley Jr., “Texas Gov. Perry’s Muddled Energy/Climate Keynote,” October 9, 2014.

“In October 2006, Governor Perry announced $10 billion in commitments from wind developers to increase installed Texas wind capacity by about 7,000 MW. And to get this (remote, unneeded) electricity to market, Perry committed the state to a $5 billion–and now $7+ billion– transmission project.”

– Robert Bradley Jr., “Texas Gov. Perry’s Muddled Energy/Climate Keynote,” October 9, 2014.

Little wonder that Gov. Perry awarded crony capitalist T. Boone Pickens the 2009 Texan of the Year Award.  (According to news reports, “Perry said Pickens’ alternative energy [featuring wind power] could change the world forever’.”)

– Robert Bradley Jr., “Texas Gov. Perry’s Muddled Energy/Climate Keynote,” October 9, 2014.

“’While Perry’s been governor,’ said the American Wind Energy Association, ‘we’ve had a business climate that allows a generator to build, connect to the grid and sell power. Under those conditions, wind has been able to compete and bring benefits to Texas consumers, and to the environment.’ Added Paul Sadler, executive director of the Wind Coalition, in the New York Times: ‘He [Perry] has been a stalwart in defense of wind energy in this state — no question about it.’”

– Robert Bradley Jr., “Texas Gov. Perry’s Muddled Energy/Climate Keynote,” October 9, 2014.



  1. Ron Clutz  

    Yes, Texas has been the number one state for accessing federal subsidies for wind.

    “In fact, federal tax subsidies for wind power are so large, that Texas wind generators have begun to pay people to take their electricity, just so they can be eligible for the subsidy. Yet while this may be a good deal for wind generators, it poses a serious long term problem for Texas’ electrical grid. The PTC is currently set to expire at the end of this year, though there is talk of extending it yet again. Texas’ heavy dependence on federal subsidies from the PTC is contrary to the state’s fierce independence and commitment to free markets.”



  2. Jim Lutz  

    While West Texas might be an ideal place to use wind generation, as it is basically a desert wilderness, they are going to run into the same kind of transmission problems if they try and take it too far beyond 10% of their total production. They will experience the same fate Australia had in their grid. Between that happening and the gov’t subsidies drying up, Texas will close out their bid to Wind Developers. At some point there will be problems. That is a given.


  3. John Droz, jr  

    Thank you for these candid observations.

    This is the first Trump appointee that I have serious reservations about. We need to call a spade a spade, no matter what the political leanings of the person are.

    From what I know about Perry, his track record in Texas regarding wind energy is highly disconcerting. For example, he seems to be proud of the wind energy Texas has due to the “economic development” it brings.

    Of course, that is an inane reason to chose an energy source, which should instead be selected based on its reliability, total cost to utility consumers, dispatchability, availability, proximity to demand centers, etc.

    Does Perry really understand that?

    I’ll be more than glad to be proven wrong about Mr. Perry, and I hope sooner than later.

    Some have speculated that his only assignment is to shut DOE down. If that’s the case, then his energy gravitas is less important.


  4. Mark Krebs  

    “Some have speculated that his only assignment is to shut DOE down. If that’s the case, then his energy gravitas is less important.”

    I can live with that.


  5. Jon Boone  

    Nice work, Rob. Perry represents the worst of today’s politicians. He has no functional knowledge about any of the disciplines that make life worth savoring–the arts, history, economics, philosophy, literature, math and the natural sciences. His government policies, particularly in energy/power, education, and illegal immigration, are pretentious, pandering amalgams that reward a range of cronies, many of whom promise much but deliver little but dysfunction. That Perry has fleeced hundreds of billions from millions of ratepayers and taxpayers is beyond question. That Trump rewards such contumely with a cabinet post should be instructive about the wheeling/dealing nature of the next President who, if his own history is any guide, would bootstrap with government funding any buccaneer claiming to save the world. Note Trump’s recent embrace of the Baron of Bunco: Elon Musk.

    Our only comfort over the coming years will be that Trump prevented Clinton from occupying the White House again. This was no small achievement.


  6. Eric Simpson  

    Perry’s involvement with the wind boondoggles is really sad. Especially in light of Perry calling climate change “flat out hogwash.” I question what justification other than abject cronyism Perry can give for wind if climate change is considered to be absolute baloney.

    Btw, my favorite horrible video, very disturbing to watch:
    Big bird sliced and killed by green energy, 31 seconds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jwVz5hdAMGU


  7. Wayne Lusvardi  

    Perry fast tracked clean coal projects in Texas but also promoted wind power in West Texas. Let’s hope that when Perry met with Trump, he was told to downsize the department drastically (as Perry vowed to do when he was a presidential candidate).


  8. rbradley  

    Wittingly or not, Gov. Perry furthered the Left energy/climate crusade in his tenure by supporting wind. See here: http://www.realclearenergy.org/charticles/2016/12/16/greens_its_time_to_embrace_rick_perry.html


  9. R. C. Ivey  

    I too am concerned that the wind debacle of West Texas is a dark spot on Perry’s record. However, I am hopeful he will have learned a bit by now. Hopefully Trump will have strong requirements regarding DOE’s future going forward.

    Today we need a transitional and immediate program for more power plants and any reasonable analysis will show combined cycle natural gas is the optimal short term choice. But we need a longer term and larger solution going forward and nothing can beat what we already know how to do. I want advanced nuclear reactors made a priority and further I would love to see slow neutron molten salt reactors (for their greater fuel burn up, safety, and additional benefits such as harvesting medical isotopes – as well as additional benefits. I also think our spent fuel is not a liability but should be burned in digesting molten salt reactors to vastly reduce the amount of waste material and shorten the decay lifetime. No doubt the mass production of small modular reactors would be a superior priority to avoid the cost and vulnerability of long HVDC power lines. We have vast uranium in the oceans but the thorium fuel cycle would open the door to lower cost and more new medical treatments for cancer. A sensible energy policy would feature these exact issues.

    I could site chapter and verse of many, many serious studies in support of what I have said but the message is never cast in the light of the economic problem of how the current renewable policies contribute to income inequality, forced redistribution and hence un-optimized use of value, as well as the delay of truly effective solutions. Dispatchable power is vastly more valuable that intermittency and low density energy, and far less costly. You can drive up the cost and argue all you want about things to justify renewables, but the reality is wealthy people will pay for energy, and the less well-off will be always be penalized – and the argument of the wealthy subsidizing the poor is a terrible waste of value that could be directed toward far better things, such as education and health.

    I tire of the current arguments over energy which are not based on physics and economics and do not address real environmental sustainability nor a safer grid. We have been going at it incorrectly for too long — maybe Perry can end that dead-end path. Surely the marketplace would be a far better judge of better solutions than politically motivated subsidies.


  10. R. C. Ivey  

    Today’s American Institute of Physic Bulletin on Science Policy News had the following paragraph in an article about Perry’s nomination. Apparently, Perry opposes federal wind tax credits today. FYI, Lamar Alexander is from Tennessee, which is home to Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

    If Alexander retains his subcommittee chairmanship, his longstanding support for DOE R&D could do much to protect or even enhance DOE’s portfolio. As reported in FYI #94, earlier this year, Alexander introduced legislation that would eliminate the federal wind production tax credit in order to increase the DOE Office of Science budget by billions of dollars. While there is no way to say whether Alexander’s proposal will advance in the new Congress, it is worth noting that Perry likewise opposes the federal wind tax credit, preferring state-specific inducements.


  11. R. C. Ivey  

    In the above post, only the second paragraph was from the AIP Bulletin. The system here removed my snip line break to separate my lead-in statement from the AIP published paragraph. I would not want to mislead anyone.


  12. Jon Boone  

    “Expecting the United States to operate on windmills is the energy equivalent of going to war in sailboats while nuclear power is available. It’s even worse than that. It’s the same as destroying our nuclear ships – our nuclear plants, the same way – and replacing them with sailboats.”

    This is one of Lamar Alexander’s kinder quotes about the wind mess. He’s been one of the few politicians who nearly understand how problematic wind “technology” actually is. As such, he has been maligned for decades by the renewables profiteers, at great cost to his political ambitions. On the other hand, as Rob continues to point out, the best one can say about Rick Perry is that he’s a shameless opportunist.

    Alas, the Congressional wind production tax credit is cast in political stone for the next four years, thanks to the likes of Paul Ryan and Chuck Grassley, who didn’t want the albatross of the wind mess hovering over the political firmament until many elections hence. Two years ago, Senator Alexander, calling on his colleagues not to renew the expired wind energy production tax credit for a ninth time “after twenty two years and billions of dollars,”quoted Ronald Reagan: “The closest you will come to eternal life on this earth is a government program.” After which, Alexander said, “My nomination for the most glaring example of a government program that seems to have eternal life is the wind production tax credit, the federal taxpayers’ subsidy for what I call ‘Big Wind.” Of course, Congress then proceeded to renew the subsidy for the tenth time, in the process giving it a five year life, rather than the usual one year extension.

    To me, the most reasonable way to calibrate what politicians will do in the future is to unveil what they’ve done in the past. Expecting the utterly corrupt Perry to sprout wings as he “leads” US energy policy is beyond fantasy. The most likely scenario is that he will pursue President Trump’s idea that a “we need to deploy all energy sources” to make us energy independent.”



  13. R. C. Ivey  

    Excellent post. I can only guess the camp of “all of the above” have emerged as a way to avoid some level of controversy, but a rationale evaluation of “all the above” is that it is utterly wrong, even embarrassingly wrong. It is time for greater understanding of the real science and economics of energy. This point in time cannot be ignored. We desperately need better information in the hands and minds of our political leaders.

    We can only hope the new administration gets information from truly knowledgeable sources and can avoid falling into the established traps of our past energy policies. Can you truly image the idea that massively long HVDC power lines (and all their costs, vulnerability, oscillations, and risks) can somehow make subsidized, intermittent, and low density wind and solar energy truly competitive and dispatchable? At some point, such policies should be held to some kind of accountability.


  14. Jon Boone  

    I don’t have to imagine a nightmare scenario wherein thousands of feckless wind turbines are supported by massively long transmission lines. It exists in Texas, courtesy of Mr. Perry. The point at which such policies will be held accountable won’t likely be reached “till the cows come home….”
    Longhorns, no doubt.

    However, neither Texas wind machines nor their dedicated transmission lines has made the goofy enterprise truly competitive, let alone dispatchable. The accountable fact is that all that wind and its associated technology has reduced Texas fossil fuel use not one whit. But no one’s interested in that fact, particularly those fossil fuel outfits interested in increasing their market share in Texas: they all have wind deeply embedded in their “power” portfolios.


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