A Free-Market Energy Blog

“End Wind Welfare!” Let Me Count the Reasons

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- December 2, 2014

“The costs of the PTC overwhelmingly outweigh the benefits. Lawmakers should prioritize American households over wind industry lobbyists.”

– Institute for Energy Research, The Case Against the Wind Tax Credit, November 24, 2014.

Last week, the American Energy Alliance (AEA), the advocacy arm of the Institute for Energy Research, began a grassroots initiative to engage lawmakers about the need to reject attempts to revive the wind Production Tax Credit (PTC), “a decades-old subsidy that props up the wind industry and lines the pockets of wealthy investors at the expense of the American taxpayer.”

The call-to-action via digital and social media advertisements involves nine states: Kentucky, Ohio, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Texas, North Carolina, Utah, California, and Louisiana.

“President Obama said his policies were on the ballot this November and the American people rejected them,” stated Tom Pyle, AEA President. “Fortunately, lawmakers don’t have to wait until next year to begin reining in the president’s energy agenda. They can start by opposing any attempt to revive the wind PTC during the lame duck session.” He continued:

This special-interest giveaway is fundamental to the president’s climate plan, in part because it masks the true cost of renewable energy. If lawmakers extend this giveaway to the industrial wind industry, they are in effect complicit in the president’s plan to make electricity prices “necessarily skyrocket.” As the president goes it alone on immigration and cuts backroom climate deals with China, ending the PTC is a meaningful way that Congress can immediately push back on his pattern of executive overreach.”

Six Reasons (and counting) 

Last week, IER published a comprehensive study, The Case Against the Wind Tax Credit. Six arguments were highlighted:

1. The PTC is costly. A two-year extension will cost $13.35 billion, which is enough to pay 124 million Americans’ average electricity bill for one month.

2. The PTC cannibalizes non-intermittent power sources. Wind producers can accept very low or negative prices (pay the grid to take their power) and still profit. Negative pricing contributed to premature retirements of Dominion’s Kewaunee Nuclear Plant and Entergy’s Vermont Yankee Nuclear Plant.

3. Americans oppose the PTC. A survey by the American Energy Alliance finds that 65 percent of voters believe two decades worth of tax credits for the wind industry is enough!

4. The PTC threatens grid reliability. Wind typically produces the most power when it is needed least: one study finds that “over 84 percent of the installed wind generation infrastructure fails to produce electricity when electric demand is greatest.”

5. Wind energy is expensive. When all factors are considered, wind energy costs $109 per megawatt hour, which is twice as much as this year’s average wholesale electricity price of $54 per MWh.

6. A vote for the PTC is a vote for Obama’s climate agenda. A building block of EPA’s CO2 rule for existing power plants is increased wind generation. But wind energy depends on the PTC: wind installations dropped 92 percent after the PTC expired at the end of 2012.

It is time to end the multi-decade, futile wind power crusade. In another century perhaps–but not in the midst of the fossil-fuel energy era.