Here’s a deal for you. Its called extending the Production Tax Credit (PTC) for one year. For $12.2 billion you can prevent the loss of 37,000 jobs. That translates into a cost of $330,000 per job saved. And you also get expensive, unreliable wind generated electricity as part of the deal. Now who is it that thinks we should take this deal? Let’s see, oh yes, it is the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). By-the-way, you will have to do this deal again the next year and the one after that and……..
The (PTC) expires at the end of this year. The Senate has prepared a bill to extend the PTC for one year at a cost of $12.2 billion. While it is the Obama Administration and the Democrats in Congress that want to extend the PTC, unfortunately there are some Republicans that have operations (wind farms and/or manufacturing) in their States favoring the bill, too.
The US government has been providing subsidies for 35 years for wind farms. Citing a report by Dr Jonathan A Lesser: ”The subsidies began with the Public Utility Regulatory Policy Act (PUPRA) and Energy Tax Act (ETA) of 1978. Subsequently, with passage of the Energy Policy Act of 1992 (EPAct) wind subsidies were increased through a variety of programs, most prominently the Federal PTC. In many electrical markets, the value of the PTC tax subsidy is greater than the price of electricity itself.”
Obviously, wind farms are not viable without subsides from the Feds,–PTC– and additional ones from some 30+ States. The rationale is that wind turbines are a developing technology and must get special breaks.
But, wind turbines aren’t a “new technology” as they have existed for years. Citing a report by Richard S Courtney,—-”vertical wind mills have been in use since around 1500 BC and horizontal wind turbines were invented in Egypt and Greece around 300 BC.” For centuries, wind turbines were used until steam power was recognized as a much superior means of providing energy.
Thirty-five years of subsidies and wind farms are still not economically viable. Recent additions of abundant supplies of natural gas will make wind farms even less competitive.
Besides the fact that wind farm energy is unavailable when it is needed the most, it fluctuates so abruptly that it can jeopardize the grid operation thus necessitating fossil fuel backup power generation to make it somewhat useable. The upshot of having to have a backup system in place results in more CO2 being produced for the same amount of electricity than if there were no wind turbines involved. So that knocks out the environmental extremists argument.
One day if an economical electricity storage system can be developed, wind farms may then become economical. For my money (as it is as well as all our citizens), I support research but not commercialization of non-competitive wind farms. Quoting some unknown German–”wind is not the answer to anything other than subsidies for the operator, higher costs for all consumers and a warm fuzzy green feeling for the cognoscenti”.