A Free-Market Energy Blog

Inferior, Subsidized Energy Feels the Pain

By -- May 11, 2020

Paul Gaynor, CEO of Longroad Energy, a utility-scale wind and solar developer, recently said, “Pre-pandemic, there were great dreams and aspirations for a record-setting year.” Indeed, the renewable industry was well on its way this year to a new record: the $9 billion subsidy mark. Mr. Gaynor’s dreams and those of the industry are a burden to the rest of us.

Without the subsidies, it is almost certain [that wind and solar] would be only a niche industry, supplying perhaps a percent or two of our power, rather than the 26% it is currently supplying in Texas.

For the first time last year, electricity produced from wind in Texas almost equaled the amount produced from coal. This year, it appears as if wind is going to blow coal away.

Last year, each source produced about 20% of the electricity used on the grid. For the first three months of 2020, however, wind has produced 26% of the power versus only 16% for coal.

Lest you be taken in by the wind energy industry’s market prowess, this has nothing to do with wind energy being cleaner, more affordable, or more reliable than rival energies. Rather, it is because the renewable energy industry is using the government to steal billions of dollars of taxpayer money every year.

This year, federal subsidies for wind and solar, in addition to Texas state and local renewable subsidies, may be about $9 billion. Since 2006, those subsidies have totaled $80 billion.

That is $80 billion being stolen from taxpayers by these major companies (and others):

Bright Spot?

One challenge to hitting the $9 billion subsidy mark this year is a bit of good news: the COVID-19 lockdown is making it difficult for the renewable industry to build more generation:

NEW YORK (AP) — The U.S. renewable energy industry is reeling from the new coronavirus pandemic, which has delayed construction, put thousands of skilled laborers out of work and sowed doubts about solar and wind projects on the drawing board.

In locked-down California, some local agencies that issue permits for new work closed temporarily, and some solar companies furloughed installers.

In New York and New Jersey, SunPower CEO Thomas Werner halted installation of more than 400 residential solar systems, fearing for his workers’ safety.

As many as 120,000 jobs in solar and 35,000 in wind could be lost, trade groups say.

I recently called this a “bright spot” on Twitter:

Bill Peacock @BillPeacock3

Here is one bright spot in the darkness that otherwise surrounds our response to COVID19. #endrenewableenergysubsidies https://twitter.com/APHealthScience/status/1256600279774044162 … AP Health & Science @APHealthScience The coronavirus pandemic is roiling the U.S. renewable energy industry, causing shipping and construction delays and leading to worker layoffs in wind and solar. http://apne.ws/qyXlOfw  5 Twitter Ads info and privacy See Bill Peacock’s other Tweets

One commenter asked, “Why is this a bright spot? You want the energy industry to fail? You want people to lose their jobs?

Fair Field, No Favor

No, I don’t want the energy industry to fail. I don’t even want the renewable energy industry to fail. Or people to lose jobs. What I want is for the corporate executives, stockholders, and workers at these companies to stop making their money through the government’s theft of money from Americans.

Paul Gaynor, CEO of Longroad Energy, a utility-scale wind and solar developer, recently said, “Pre-pandemic, there were great dreams and aspirations for a record-setting year.” Indeed, the renewable industry was well on its way this year to a new record; the $9 billion subsidy mark. Mr. Gaynor’s dreams and those of the industry are a burden to the rest of us.

What I also want is for the renewable energy industry to to stand (or fall) on its own. If it brings value to consumers and to our country, it will do so. However, as is well documented, wind and solar energy are relatively unaffordable, unreliable, and inefficient. Without the subsidies, it is almost certain it would be only a niche industry, supplying perhaps a percent or two of our power, rather than the 26% it is currently supplying in Texas.

Texas Public Policy Foundation

The Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF) has one of the best collections of research in the world on the problems with renewable energy. Here is a list of some of the studies:

Renewable Energy in Texas

The Cost of Renewable Energy in Texas

ERCOT’s Growth and Adaptations to New Markets

Purpose-Driven Economic Development: A Guide to Reforming Chapters 312 and 313

The High Cost of Renewable Energy

Assigning Property Rights Through Wind and Solar Easements

Local Tax Abatements and the Texas Wind Industry: How Chapters 312 & 313 Are Scarring Rural Texas

The Economic Fall and Political Rise of Renewable Energy

The Production Tax Credit: Corporate Subsidies & Renewable Energy

The Cautionary Tale of Wind Energy in ERCOT

The Texas Wind Power Story: Part 1

The Texas Wind Power Story: Part 2

Public Policy Crossroads

People who care about liberty, people who care about prosperity, people who care about the poor should be people who want to eliminate renewable energy subsidies. Yet taxpayer billions continue to flow to this corrupt industry. Thus, there are two possible reasons why this continues:

  • People who care about liberty, prosperity, and the poor don’t understand what is going on; or
  • There just are not that many people who care about liberty, prosperity, and the poor.

Take your pick.

Let’s pray that as the country recovers from COVID-19 and our government’s response to COVID-19, the recovery does not extend to the renewable energy industry UNTIL it stops living off of American taxpayers. But that might not be the case: the Energy Information Administration predicts renewable energy will grow 11% this year, despite recent setbacks.

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This post is taken from ExcellentThought, a website by Bill Peacock. Formerly vice president of research at the Texas Public Policy Foundation in Austin, Bill specializes in economic freedom and growth, property rights, civil justice, and regulatory issues.

His prior positions extending back to 1989 have been

  • Deputy Commissioner for Coastal Resources for Commissioner Jerry Patterson at the Texas General Land Office.
  • Legislative and media consultant working with Citizens for a Sound Economy, Putting Children First, and other groups.
  • Deputy Assistant Commissioner for Intergovernmental Affairs for Commissioner Rick Perry at the Texas Department of Agriculture.
  • Legislative aide to Rep. John Culberson in the Texas House of Representatives.
  • Analyst, Texas Senate Committee on Education.

Bill has a B.A. in History from the University of Northern Colorado and a M.B.A. with an emphasis in public finance from the University of Houston.

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