So it was especially refreshing to see the recent edition of “Lasee’s Notes,” an email newsletter from State Senator Frank Lasee (R-De Pere).
Lasee (La-SAY) represents the area that includes Shirley Wind, a small energy facility where several families have actually abandoned their homes, complaining of varied ill-health effects they attribute to turbine noise.
Spain Can’t Afford Wind Energy
By State Senator Frank Lasee
Last week, the government of Spain proposed a plan to cut lucrative subsidies (paid for by taxpayers) for renewable energy producers, causing investors to go crazy with speculation. Facing a tariff deficit (the amount between revenues and program costs) estimated at nearly $30 billion (about $40 billion USD), the world’s number four wind energy producer has had enough of wind welfare and with good cause. For years, wind producers in Spain have received guaranteed payments above market rates (so has wind in the US), meaning that households and businesses paid more than they should have for their electric usage. These payments are contributing greatly to massive government deficits (and higher consumer electric bills) while wind energy companies enjoy windfall profits.
What to do with all those excess subsidies?
Introducing the carbon free taxpayer funded pinwheel! Their production will put people to work, so why not pinwheel welfare?
Like Spain, our federal government pays direct taxpayer subsidy support to the wind electric producers. Since 1992, the wind Production Tax Credit (PTC) has paid U.S. industrial wind producers a 2.3¢ per-kilowatt-hour tax. Since 1998, the PTC has risen from $5 million annually to well over a billion dollars a year today. Originally sold to consumers as a temporary tax credit to get the industry jump started, the PTC has now lingered on for over two decades.
The unintended consequence of a 20 year temporary tax credit is the distortion of the true cost of wind energy. Electric made by wind costs substantially more than coal, natural gas and nuclear power. Taxpayers and rate payers are paying these additional costs, taking money from your pocket and mine, and causing jobs to leave our country and business profits to be squeezed.
The PTC, at a significant cost to taxpayers, has created a system of net payers and net takers. In 2012, the payment for the PTC subsidy (the annual transfer of wealth from Wisconsin taxpayers to the renewable energy industry) totaled nearly $14 million for just Wisconsinites. (That is just the PTC, not the rate payers subsidies in higher electric rates paid). That’s $14 million dollars that went to subsidizing corporations in other states.
Energy market distortions do not end there. As long as a wind turbine produces electricity, even at times when there is no demand from consumers and it is sold at a loss, wind producers still collect tax credits for every kilowatt hour they generate.
If we stop subsidizing it with government and electric user dollars, wind will stop moving, even after 20 years of a temporary subsidy.
The feds are not the only ones helping to create this unrealistic and unsustainable renewable energy market. Wisconsin’s very own Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) passed in 1998 requires that utilities within the state increase the amount of energy they provide from renewables such as wind. According to a recent study, Wisconsinites will pay nearly $800 million for renewable sources such as wind and solar from 2014-2017.
Many supporters of wind energy subsides will argue that eliminating tax credits will cost jobs in the renewable energy sector. Although wind energy only contributes about 3% of the nation’s electricity, the cost to protect the industry is estimated to be $329,000 per job.
If it is a jobs program we want, we would be better off having a green jobs lottery and pay six people $50,000 a year instead of the current taxpayer and ratepayer wind and solar energy scheme. If our country did this, we would create 222,000 jobs instead of the current 37,000 wind and solar industry jobs created with our money. (I know my math was about 10% short – 6 x $50,000 equals $300,000, not $329,000. See what happens when money gets windblown through Washington DC?)
Too bad more wasn’t done to shine the light of day on this problem before the towers and panels went up. Too bad the left and the left leaning mainstream media continues the lie that this is somehow good for us. Too bad they perpetuate the lie that industrial wind towers don’t harm some of those that have them built too close to their homes. Too bad the myth that industrial wind towers don’t hurt property values continues.
Just another waste of our hard earned money perpetuated on us by our government, for our own good they say.