Aww: The wind lobby is frustrated with the GOP

posted at 11:21 am on May 8, 2012 by Erika Johnsen

It warmed my heart when Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) spearheaded a bill last February that would roll back a bunch of the energy-related tax credits that riddle our tax code and distort free-market signals in our energy sector. Tax credits are just one of the forms that subsidies can take, but all subsidies encourage rent-seeking behavior over customer-oriented behavior and allow the federal government to handpick winners and losers based on political favoritism rather than merit.

For some industries in  particular, free-market competition is a little too pedestrian, and they resent that they should have to deign to convince people to buy their product and actually turn a profit. It’s just so… distasteful. Via Tim Carney:

The Tea Party has weakened the clout of the wind lobby, and imperiled the industry’s prized political possession — a billion-dollar “Production Tax Credit.” …

The American Wind Energy Association’s 2011 annual report and related documents were quietly posted on the Internet last week by a wind power opponent upset by windmills’ negative impact on birds. The documents show the lobby’s efforts to frame its opponents as tax hikers, and to use opposition research against subsidy critics, some of whom it classifies as “libertarian free-market fundamentalists.” …

“AWEA’s message and champions have largely resided on the left,” the Revolution Agency stated in a strategy memo included in AWEA’s 2011 annual report. So the 2010 elections required AWEA to “pivot” from “green energy and Obama to jobs, manufacturing, business investment, and Conservative Republicans,” while still “taking care not to erode base support from the left.”

One core problem, the memo explained: The “debt-strapped, partisan, and Tea Party-infused Congress is reflexively skeptical of subsidies and many outside the windy red states have an inherently negative sentiment toward renewable energy.” …

AWEA plans “continued deployment of opposition research through third parties to cause critics to have to respond,” the battle plan states. In other words: When people attack AWEA’s subsidies, AWEA might feed an unflattering story on that person to some ideological or partisan media outlet or activist group.

Ahh, the seedy underbelly of the DC lobbying-scene. It’s kinda’ cute that greenie-hippie types think that by abiding by the dictates of environmental trendiness, they think they’re somehow ‘fighting the man’ and thwarting corporate/establishment interests. ‘Cause in reality, the environmental movement boasts one of the most intractable lobbies around.

The AWEA only got it half-right, however: conservatives are ‘reflexively skeptical of subsidies,’ but they get a bum rap for harboring ‘inherently negative sentiments’ for renewable energy. If a form of renewable energy can start up its own ventures in the private sector and make a product that people willingly buy, then great! But as for the federal government ostensibly “making an investment” on behalf of public welfare, what incentives do bureaucrats have to be judicious in their “investments” when they’re gambling with other people’s money?

If wind energy didn’t have as much sunshine-and-rainbows, green-is-glamorous, in-theory support with the unthinking eco-trendy crowd, it wouldn’t have much else going for it. Turbines are environmentally costly and expensive to make; wind power doesn’t deliver much bang for its buck and isn’t very reliable; and comparing energy forms in terms of real energy-output, wind and solar together receive the lion’s share of government subsidies and they still don’t compete. From Environmental Trends:

The relevant question is, which form of energy is more subsidized on a per-unit-of-energy basis. The charts below show what the subsidy situation looks like when you calculate it on the much more relevant subsidy per-kilowatt-hour basis. As you can see, on that apples-to-apples basis, wind and solar power receive far higher subsidies than conventional energy forms.

So, yes — please, forgive us darned free-market fundamentalists for understanding that the freedom of small government should trump the inefficiencies of big government. I just hope most of the GOPers stay strong on this one, and don’t give in to the wiles of the wind lobby. I’d wager that at least Sen. DeMint can be counted upon to hold fast:

Freedom is the only political principle that cannot be bent to serve special interests. Remember how 7-Up used to call itself the un-cola? Well, freedom is the un-special interest.

Freedom, protected by the Constitution and the rule of law, works for everyone. It allows everyone — left or right, young or old, rich or poor — to make their own choices according to their own values.

Government’s job shouldn’t be to tilt the field for one team or another, but to guarantee a level playing for everyone.

That’s why I’m against forcing workers to join unions, congressional earmarks for favored groups, government bailouts of Wall Street, and energy subsidies — both for oil companies and for green energy.


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Until someone invents a wind turbine that works without wind, and a solar panel that works in the dark, NEITHER will be reliable power sources.

wildcat72 on May 8, 2012 at 11:25 AM

“libertarian free-market fundamentalists.”

They say that like it’s a bad thing.

UltimateBob on May 8, 2012 at 11:26 AM

Windlyndra here we come.

Bishop on May 8, 2012 at 11:28 AM

It’s time to break wind.

Rixon on May 8, 2012 at 11:28 AM

Actually break BIG wind.

Rixon on May 8, 2012 at 11:28 AM

…where is the screaming about a form of welfare for the rich!

KOOLAID2 on May 8, 2012 at 11:30 AM

Now if we can just find some flatulent Brontosarus, the steady wind probem would be solved !
Oh wait, AWEA could provide them, can’t think of a better description of them. You put green stuff in and get crap at the other end. All noise and smells bad.

stormridercx4 on May 8, 2012 at 11:31 AM

libertarian free-market fundamentalists

I’d proudly wear such a label.

rbj on May 8, 2012 at 11:31 AM

Haven’t you heard yet, windmills cause global warming. No lie.

reddevil on May 8, 2012 at 11:32 AM

Every time I’ve drive by a wind far, seems like 1/2 the windmills are not working. I don’t know if they break down a lot or if they just need a ton of maintenance. But either way, it’s very inefficient if 50% of your production is always down.

angryed on May 8, 2012 at 11:33 AM

“libertarian free-market fundamentalists.”
They say that like it’s a bad thing.

UltimateBob on May 8, 2012 at 11:26 AM

“Free-market” is a curse word to subsidy-grabbers.

Bitter Clinger on May 8, 2012 at 11:36 AM

It’s kinda’ cute that greenie-hippie types think that by abiding by the dictates of environmental trendiness, they think they’re somehow ‘fighting the man’ and thwarting corporate/establishment interests. ‘Cause in reality, the environmental movement boasts one of the most intractable lobbies around.

The same is true of pretty much everything that the “stick it to the man” hippie types believe.

Redistribution of wealth, regulations of all kinds, “free” higher education, funding of art featuring crucifixes in a jars of urine, etc…. all of these things require enormous bureaucracies whose main purpose is to confiscate wealth and penalize and punish those who do not comply.

The hippies might walk around screaming about freedom, but in fact they are fascists.

UltimateBob on May 8, 2012 at 11:36 AM

My 65 mile commute (one way) doesn’t have much use for wind.

Or an electric firecracker that can only go 40-50 miles before a recharge.

CurtZHP on May 8, 2012 at 11:37 AM

Liberals promote genocide

Windmills kill nearly half a million birds a year, according to a Fish and Wildlife estimate. The American Bird Conservancy projected that the number could more than double in 20 years if the administration realizes its goal for wind power.

Six birds found dead recently in Southern California’s Tehachapi Mountains were majestic golden eagles.

faraway on May 8, 2012 at 11:38 AM

conservatives are ‘reflexively skeptical of subsidies,’ but they get a bum rap for harboring ‘inherently negative sentiments’ for renewable energy.

The earth produces petroleum and methane. Ergo, they are renewable. Ergo, conservatives have no “inherently negative sentiments” for renewables per se.

Heck, even Saturn’s moon Titan produces methane. How else did it get into its atmosphere?!

Akzed on May 8, 2012 at 11:38 AM

Obama kills eagles.

faraway on May 8, 2012 at 11:39 AM

The greenie weenie movement is protesting mountain top coal mining. But they don’t show up to protest mountain top removal for the big fans.

seven on May 8, 2012 at 11:39 AM

Renewables

What are those? Trees? If they are renewable, then why are we using these other energies like a bunch of chumps?

LoganSix on May 8, 2012 at 11:39 AM

I have an idea. The eco nutbags, being so full of wind themselves, should adopt a windmill, set up camp under it, and spend all their time blowing on it. Will give them something productive to do, keep them out of our hair, and hey, possibly provide some power.

waterytart on May 8, 2012 at 11:40 AM

great article.

rndmusrnm on May 8, 2012 at 11:44 AM

I’m a worker bee in the wind energy business (trying to get out). Believe me, this industry was growing a LOT stronger under Bush than under Obama. Go figure.

Uncledave on May 8, 2012 at 11:46 AM

Obama kills eagles.

… and eats dogs.

faraway on May 8, 2012 at 11:48 AM

libertarian free-market fundamentalists vs. greedy crony-socialist parasites

forest on May 8, 2012 at 11:50 AM

We need the dinosaurs back. I read an article that said climatologists blame dinosaurs for global warming because they passed wind. If we had them back, we could have both wind and gas power.

bandutski on May 8, 2012 at 11:53 AM

We need the dinosaurs back. I read an article that said climatologists blame dinosaurs for global warming because they passed wind. If we had them back, we could have both wind and gas power.

bandutski on May 8, 2012 at 11:53 AM

2013 Headline: NYC requires citizens to recycle their wind. (Apple announces app for that)

/

faraway on May 8, 2012 at 11:56 AM

Lets have some fun with this bill. Attach amendments approving Keystone XL and opening ANWAR to drilling.

agmartin on May 8, 2012 at 12:00 PM

Until wind and solar power are economically feasable (without subsidies) then that alternate energy source is a nogo.

And making fossil fuel artificially expensive is no answer either.

TerryW on May 8, 2012 at 12:02 PM

I’m down with it. Wind power (Subsidized) to charge up my Chevy Volt (Subsidized) which I park in my reinsulated house (Subsidized)! The good times are here! I’m glad my 15 year old son can take care of the 15 trillion dollar bill coming due.

buckeyerich on May 8, 2012 at 12:02 PM

Speaking of wind, and those that predict wind, meteorologists, a warmist site was bemoaning the fact that as few as (they pointed to poll) 19% of meteorologists believed in AGW. I left this comment:

There’s talk about the “problem” of meteorologists not going along with the supposed consensus. Yet you could just as easily see it as a problem that climate scientists, or at least the younger ones, are like a solid, virtually unanimous block in their support of AGW. No deviation, marching in goosestep. This unanimity is puzzling, considering the richness of the debate, and how easy it would be to play devils advocate.

The problem is that far from being unbiased and impartial, climate scientists, at least the post 1990 vintage, had to agree with the AGW theory in order to be acccepted into their doctorate programs. So, today, climate scientists represent little more than a rubber stamp for AGW.

Thus the inescapble conclusion is that climate scientists cannot be considered an independent, unbiased, credible source of information… on climate.

anotherJoe on May 8, 2012 at 12:04 PM

That’s why I’m against forcing workers to join unions.

dont want to work at a union shop,dont apply!!!!

svs22422 on May 8, 2012 at 12:06 PM

Now the tables are turned and the enviro’s are “the man”, sticking the bill to the “people”. They have become what they despised as young idealists. Distasteful indeed.

jake49 on May 8, 2012 at 12:12 PM

Every time I’ve drive by a wind far, seems like 1/2 the windmills are not working. I don’t know if they break down a lot or if they just need a ton of maintenance. But either way, it’s very inefficient if 50% of your production is always down.

angryed on May 8, 2012 at 11:33 AM

What happens (as I understand it) is the plant is running under capacity so they have to shut down the turbines because they don’t have the ability yet to efficiently store the mechanical energy generated by the wind turbines.

In Britain, and I suspect many municipalities here in the U.S., actually have to pay the plants for the wind turbine downtime.

WeekendAtBernankes on May 8, 2012 at 12:14 PM

I will add this, I’m no fan of the wind boondoggles but I’ve noticed that the pile of coal at the powerplant in my hometown has been a lot smaller throughout the year than it was before the massive, ugly, rural windfarms came online.

WeekendAtBernankes on May 8, 2012 at 12:15 PM

Every time I’ve drive by a wind far, seems like 1/2 the windmills are not working. I don’t know if they break down a lot or if they just need a ton of maintenance. But either way, it’s very inefficient if 50% of your production is always down.

Many are frequently down due to mechanical breakdowns and required maintenance every 30 days. I’d imagine it is pretty difficult to get up in those things to service and fix ‘em.

Maintenance costs sometimes put off keeping many windmill from operating. And since most have been in operation fewer than 10 of the 20 year expected lifespan, we haven’t seen much reported yet of malfunctions bound to occur, such as electrical fires within the turbine and separation of blades breaking off and shooting off into the distance.

hawkeye54 on May 8, 2012 at 12:16 PM

We need to break WIND!

jeffn21 on May 8, 2012 at 12:16 PM

Thus the inescapble conclusion is that climate scientists cannot be considered an independent, unbiased, credible source of information… on climate.
anotherJoe

I couldn’t agree with you more. You’ll have some group called “Save our trees” or some such nonsense, and they’ll report that our trees are being decimated at an unprecedented rate. The press reports this as fact. It couldn’t be that they would skew the facts to support their arguments?
I would be happy if I could read just one news article from the national press that isn’t half fact and half commentary. Just REPORT the news. I don’t care about the opinion of the person who writes the story. I’ll form my own opinions, I don’t need the “protector of our hearts and minds” to do it for me.

bandutski on May 8, 2012 at 12:23 PM

The “debt-strapped, partisan, and Tea Party-infused Congress is reflexively skeptical of subsidies …

Uhhhh… what’s wrong with that?

KS Rex on May 8, 2012 at 12:26 PM

We need to break WIND!

jeffn21 on May 8, 2012 at 12:16 PM

But that would turn the earth into a dutch oven!

WeekendAtBernankes on May 8, 2012 at 12:26 PM

I know I’ve asked this before, and was rebuffed to do some legal distinction, but I’ll ask again.

In other words: When people attack AWEA’s subsidies, AWEA might feed an unflattering story on that person to some ideological or partisan media outlet or activist group.

How is this not blackmail? Is it blackmail when Darlene Snow, Executive Director of this pile of trash, personalizes the threat against a specific lawmaker?

MNHawk on May 8, 2012 at 12:34 PM

One of the most distgusting videos ive seen is of a large bird being struck and falling to its death. Ive read this happens alot.

newportmike on May 8, 2012 at 12:36 PM

The Tea Party has weakened the clout of the wind lobby, and imperiled the industry’s prized political possession — a billion-dollar “Production Tax Credit.” …

For a dead organization, this “Tea Party” thing sure gets blamed for a lot of stuff.

Lost in Jersey on May 8, 2012 at 12:43 PM

It appears that every type of alternative energy has a business model predicated on receiving government subsidies. Could it be that in their heart of hearts they know they don’t have a viable product for the public to purchase?

Deano1952 on May 8, 2012 at 12:50 PM

One of the most distgusting videos ive seen is of a large bird being struck and falling to its death. Ive read this happens alot.

newportmike on May 8, 2012 at 12:36 PM

Birds die like flies, and flies are even worse.

PersonFromPorlock on May 8, 2012 at 1:06 PM

What we need is more giant flippin’ windmills that just sit there because they’re too expensive to maintain.

John the Libertarian on May 8, 2012 at 1:23 PM

Make your own wind power. Eat at Taco Bell.

Rohall1215 on May 8, 2012 at 2:11 PM

Subsidies, schmubsidies. How about cost?

One Megawatt of capacity of natural-gas generated power costs about $900,000 to build. One megawatt of (advertised peak) capacity of wind or solar costs between 7 and 9 Million dollars to build,from which you get, if you are lucky, 20% of that capacity on average.

Natural gas is cheap and abundant, not to mention cleaner that wind and solar (when you consider the chemicals and mining required to make them work). And we have the gas here and now, rather than buying raw materials from China. Duh.

iurockhead on May 8, 2012 at 2:43 PM

Make your own wind power. Eat at Taco Bell.
Rohall1215 on May 8, 2012 at 2:11 PM

HOT GAS!!!

Marcola on May 8, 2012 at 2:53 PM

I will add this, I’m no fan of the wind boondoggles but I’ve noticed that the pile of coal at the powerplant in my hometown has been a lot smaller throughout the year than it was before the massive, ugly, rural windfarms came online.

WeekendAtBernankes on May 8, 2012 at 12:15 PM

I don’t think that means what you think it does. A shrinking stockpile indicates that the plant is burning more coal than is coming in. There can be many reasons for this. Better indicators would be capacity factor and availability. Size of the stockpile is not indicative of either.

Oldnuke on May 8, 2012 at 3:16 PM

Besides all the other drawbacks, those turbines are noisy.

stukinIL4now on May 8, 2012 at 4:13 PM

Wait, aren’t ALL lobbies wind lobbies?

crosspatch on May 8, 2012 at 4:47 PM

Does anybody know if there is a listing that shows how much taxpayer money has been allocated to
building windmills Vs the amount of energy/money that has returned for our investment, or is this like the school budget they will not show the specifics of where the money goes.Too incriminating to show the actual ledger i suspect. Is it too much to ask to see the books ?

MrMoe on May 8, 2012 at 8:17 PM

Can we just surround DC with windmills?

We’ve seen it time after time. Wind farm owners will only keep them until the subsidies and tax breaks run out. Then they abandon them. Wind doesn’t pay.

ironked on May 9, 2012 at 8:53 AM

Wind also requires constantly turning peaking generators (mostly gas powered) to make up for their inconstant power generation. They save nothing.

ironked on May 9, 2012 at 8:57 AM