So, the Department of Interior‘s plans to develop solar projects on public land — a.k.a., on public assets that the government is disallowing from being put to more productive uses — against which I’ve so often railed?
Welcome to my nightmare. The WSJ reports:
The U.S. will offer up federal acreage off the coasts of Virginia, Massachusetts and Rhode Island for offshore wind farms during the first half of 2013 the Interior Department said Friday.
The competitive lease sales will be the first held under an Obama administration initiative to fast-track permitting for offshore wind farms. None of the expensive projects have been built yet in the U.S.
The leases would grant wind-development rights in about 277,550 acres, though the winning bidders would still have to clear additional environmental reviews and secure financing.
It isn’t that I have anything against the federal government leasing areas to private companies for efficient and profitable uses — it’s that wind has never been competitive without the ridiculously generous amount of federal ‘help’ it receives. For years now, the wind industry has repeatedly failed to demonstrate that it can do anything productive on its own merits, which is why wind advocates are flipping out about the potential loss of their precious production tax credit. Without it, it’s likely to be curtains for the industry as it is now (which would actually be a good thing for wind, because subsidies do nothing to encourage competition and price efficiency, but I digress). The AP has more:
The leases for the two areas, which total more than 430 square miles, will be sold next year, the Department of Interior and its Bureau of Ocean Energy Management said.
“Wind energy along the Atlantic holds enormous potential, and today we are moving closer to tapping into this massive domestic energy resource to create jobs, increase our energy security and strengthen our nation’s competitiveness in this new energy frontier,” Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said in a written statement. …
There are no offshore wind farms in the United States, although several are already in development off Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Jersey and Delaware.
The problem, Secretary Salazar, is that the jobs that the government will ostensibly create from fast-tracking these endeavors do not really contribute to economic growth because they only exist at the mercy of the government’s largesse — as President Obama has admitted repeatedly, these jobs would go away without their accompanying subsidies.
But hey, by all means — forward!