01.04.2013 0

Strong winds upon the fiscal cliff

By Rebekah Rast — The American Wind Energy Association is breathing much easier after the New Year’s Day vote on the fiscal cliff deal.

Why? Wind energy tax credits were extended for another year.

The group stated in its press release, “America’s 75,000 workers in wind energy are celebrating tonight over the continuation of policies expected to save up to 37,000 jobs and create far more over time, and to revive business at nearly 500 manufacturing facilities across the country.”

If you’re feeling good that the fiscal cliff deal saved some jobs, consider this: The total cost of the wind energy tax credits is about $12 billion over the next 10 years.  If you do the math for these 37,000 jobs saved, that cost averages to about $329,000 per job. The Orange County Register reports that this cost “is 15 times more per job than it cost taxpayers for 1.2 million petroleum industry jobs.”

Furthermore, today wind power only accounts for about 3 percent of U.S. energy production.

Not the best deal for American taxpayers.

American Energy Alliance (AEA) President Thomas Pyle discussed the extension of the tax credits on NPR: “It’s not that the subsidies for the wind industry are in and of themselves bad, but it is part and parcel of a larger problem, and that is that the federal government is notoriously bad at energy policy, and they have been for decades, and we think it’s time for them to step aside.”

Wind energy has been subsidized by taxpayers for the past 20 years.  What have been the results?

The Orange County Register reports that annually there are “440,000 shredding deaths from spinning windmill blades of eagles, hawks, geese, bats and other birds, many protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty.”  Not to mention the space needed and land lost to accommodate these giant turbines.

Despite being subsidized, the cost of wind energy is still much higher than conventional energy.  American Enterprise Institute states wind energy subsidies cost $52.48 per one million watt hours generated.  For comparison, “the subsidies for generating the same amount of electricity from nuclear power are $3.10, from hydropower 84 cents, from coal 64 cents, and from natural gas 63 cents.”

With the wind energy sector’s high environmental and monetary costs, those 37,000 jobs saved by this fiscal cliff deal wouldn’t exist at all if it wasn’t for government favoritism.

“Wind should be free to compete in the marketplace along with other forms of energy,” Bill Wilson, president of Americans for Limited Government (ALG), said in a press release.  “But anyone who argues that it should be subsidized is just breaking wind. If it cannot compete on a cost basis without subsidies and without using the power of government to squash competitors, then it is not viable.”

No matter how much money is thrown into the wind energy sector, it will never be enough to make it a competitive player with other energy forms.  Also, wind energy only produces 3 percent of today’s energy—not near enough to meet energy demands.

The last 20 years of wind subsidies have proved that the wind doesn’t always blow.  This next year will likely have the same result as taxpayers are again forced to throw their money into the wind—or lack thereof.

Rebekah Rast is a contributing editor to Americans for Limited Government (ALG) and NetRightDaily.com.  You can follow her on twitter at @RebekahRast.

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