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Editorial: Fight big wind now!
Editor’s note: As we celebrate the 25th anniversary of TRRT, this space was reserved for an editorial on the last five years of our efforts. However, for at least five years, we have been battling against Big Wind’s damage to the Web of Life and its industrialization of our agricultural and natural areas. The vote in the House Ways and Means Committee is coming before the end of the year; that’s more of a priority than a retrospective. We must act now. The following material was provided by Brian VanLaar and the Boone County Concerned Citizens, who have been fighting massive turbines that would ruin their local viewscape, health and safety. Please act today, Big Wind really only pays big companies, many of which are based in other countries such as Spain, Ireland and China.
Facts about industrial-scale wind
1. Wind is a mature industry –— it’s time for it to stand on its own. The Joint Committee on Taxation reports that between 1992 and 20151, the cumulative cost of the PTC, without extension, will be approximately $17 billion with the bulk of this claimed by wind resources constructed since 2006. These costs are in addition to the anticipated $22.6 billion in direct cash outlays under the Section 1603 grant program now expired. Yet, after decades of government support of multiple kinds, the wind industry remains economically inviable.
Note: M. Sherlock Testimony, April 2012.
2. The wind-sector slowdown is not tied to the end of the PTC. The wind industry insists it’s at risk of a slowdown without the PTC and jobs will be lost. But this view ignores crucial factors driving development in the United States. Demand for wind has eroded, in part, due to states meeting their renewable mandates. Lower natural gas prices have further reduced wind’s attractiveness as a “fuel saver.” Faced with these market conditions, wind developers are tabling projects. The Energy Information Administration now forecasts flat growth in the wind sector for this decade regardless of what happens with the PTC.
Note: Energy Information Administration. EIA Reference case for wind energy, June 2012. http://www.eia.gov/oiaf/aeo/tablebrowser/#release=AEO2012&subject=0-AEO2012&table=16-AEO2012®ion=0-0&cases=ref2012-d020112c
3. Wind energy is costly, and government efforts to offset the cost distort the markets. Wholesale power contract prices for onshore wind are roughly two to three times the price of more reliable generation, making wind one of the most expensive power sources in the U.S. even after the PTC is factored in. The PTC offsets the high price of wind energy, giving the false impression that wind is competitive with other resources, but at 2.2¢/kWh, the subsidy’s pre-tax value (3.4¢/kWh) equals, or exceeds the wholesale price of power in much of the country. The size of the subsidy relative to wholesale prices is distorting competitive wholesale energy markets and harming the financial integrity of other, more reliable generation.
Note: Northbridge Group, Negative Electricity Prices and the Production Tax Credit. Sept. 2012. http://www.nbgroup.com/publications/Negative_Electricity_Prices_and_the_Production_Tax_Credit.pdf
4. The industry’s job-creation claim is based on one-sided, simplistic modeling. The wind industry insists the PTC enables American jobs but ignores potential jobs that would be created given alternative spending of federal funds. Further, industry job forecasts fail to report on the more important net job creation. In states like Vermont, government models have shown that above-market energy costs tied to renewables reduce any positive employment impacts of renewable energy capital investment. This is without taking into account additional costs associated with wind-related transmission build-out and grid integration costs associated with wind energy’s intermittency.
Note: Vermont Dept. of Public Service, The Economic Impacts of Vermont Feed in Tariffs. Dec. 2009. http://publicservice.vermont.gov/planning/DPS%20White%20Paper%20Feed%20in%20Tariff.pdf
Send a letter or make a call to say ‘no’ to industrializing our rural areas
Because the vote of this tax giveaway is fast approaching, please send the following letter to the members of the House Ways and Means Committee. Their information is: Kevin Brady, (202)225-4901, Fax: (202)225-5524. Vern Buchanan (202) 225-5015, Fax: (202) 226-0828. Tom Reed, (202) 225-3161, Fax: (202) 226-6599. Diane Black, (202) 225-4231, Fax: (202) 225-6887. Rick Berg, (202) 225-2611, Fax: (202) 226-0893. Erik Paulsen, (202) 225-2871, Fax: (202) 225-6351. Kenny Marchant, (202) 225-6605, Fax: (202) 225-0074. Lynn Jenkins, (202) 225-6601, Fax: (202) 225-7986, Aaron Schock, (202) 225-6201, Fax: (202) 225-9249. Adrian Smith, (202) 225-6435, Fax: (202) 225-0207. Tom Price, (202) 225-4501, Fax: (202) 225-4656. Jim Gerlach, (202) 225-4315, Fax (202) 225-8440. Peter Roskam, (202) 225-4561, Fax (202) 225-1166. Charles Boustany, Jr. MD, (202) 225-2031, Fax: (202) 225-5724. Dave Reichert, (202) 225-7761, Fax: (202) 225-4282. Pat Tiberi, (202) 225-5355, Fax: (202) 226-4523. Devin Nunes, (202) 225-2523, Fax: (202) 225-3404. Paul Ryan, (202) 225-3031, Fax: (202) 225-3393. Sam Johnson, (202) 225-4201, Fax: (202) 225-1485. Wally Herger, (202) 225-3076. Fax: (202) 226-0852.
You may send the following letter with any modifications you wish to your member of the House of Representatives or the Senate. Their addresses follow. You may go to this article at www.rockrivertimes.com to cut and paste it for an e-mail or to print out for a fax.
Send this letter
Dear Representative Adam Kinzinger. 2701 Black Rd., Ste. 201, Joliet, IL 60435, 815-729-2308 and Representative Cheri Bustos, P.O. Box 77, East Moline 61244, 309-644-2358, and Senator Mark Kirk, Kluczynski Federal Bldg., 230 S Dearborn, Suite 3900, Chicago, IL 60604, 312-886-3506 and Senator Dick Durbin, 230 South Dearborn St., #3892, Chicago, IL 60604, 312-353-4952:
We are writing to join thousands of other citizens in urging you and your colleagues in the House and Senate to not extend the wind production tax credit (PTC) that has subsidized the wind industry since 1992. This tax expenditure is due to expire at the end of this year, and it should be allowed to do so, permanently.
The Congress and the White House are facing several weeks of intense discussion considering the tax increases and spending cuts due to take effect at the end of this year. We are very aware that you will be under pressure to extend provisions such as the PTC as a part of a compromise to avert some or all of those revenue and expenditure changes. We implore you to resist that pressure, and permit the PTC to end on schedule. Renewing the PTC would cost billions that our nation simply cannot afford, without any material benefit to the economy.
It has been evident for years that government support for wind energy development is very costly, and has utterly failed to establish industrial-scale wind as a self-sustaining contributor to meeting our energy needs.
The attachment to our letter takes a closer look at the reasons the PTC needs to end. The bottom line is that after more than three decades of government subsidy and support in multiple forms, the wind industry can’t support itself, doesn’t make a significant contribution to meeting our energy needs and has no realistic prospects for doing so in the foreseeable future.
Since the PTC was first introduced in 1992, the government has provided $40 billion to the industrial wind energy industry in tax credits and cash grants with these costs dramatically increasing in recent years. In the last year alone, nearly $5 billion has been distributed. There is no plausible justification for continuing this spending, and certainly not when the nation is facing the huge debt and deficits prevailing today.
Please let the wind PTC expire.
Your signature, plus others if possible.
Note: In addition to federal tax credits, government efforts to support the wind industry have included (1) a mandatory federal requirement (under PURPA) that utilities purchase wind energy from qualifying independent producers, (2) feed-in tariffs or their equivalent in a number of states (these impose a tax in the form of higher electricity rates to subsidize wind development), (3) “renewable portfolio standards” requiring that utilities obtain some minimum percentage of their electricity from wind and other “renewable” sources and (4) various other tax breaks such as sales and property tax exemptions. Points 1, 3, and 4 are preferences, taxes out of our pockets and giveaways we don’t get or want to give. End the advantages for Big Wind that is not “Green” at all, except for the “Green” it takes out of our wallets. Don’t fall for the Greenwashing of Big Wind.
From the Dec. 5-11, 2012, issue