Wind industry gets to keep their taxpayer-funded lifeblood for another year
posted at 5:51 pm on January 2, 2013 by Erika Johnsen
Wind energy’s industry-wide freakout is finally over, at least for another year; the country’s “fastest growing energy source” — or, to put it just a bit more candidly, the country’s most expensively subsidized source per actual unit of energy output — will get to keep the wind production tax credit on which they are pretty much entirely dependent through at least 2013.
The 13th-hour deal approved by both houses of Congress on New Year’s Day includes a provision extending the much discussed wind power production tax credit. The credit, which gives a tax break of 2.2 cents for every kilowatt-hour of energy produced by wind, was set to expire at the end of 2012 and will now include projects that complete construction in 2013.
According to wind energy industry players, the PTC remains crucial for the continued ascendance of wind power. …
When discussions over the PTC stalled in Washington over the last months of 2012, wind farm builders raced to start their turbines spinning before the deadline in order to qualify for the credit.
The great riddle of why an industry that still cannot or will not compete on its own two feet, after twenty solid years of heavy government help, deserves still more taxpayer funding, remains unanswered — especially since the 37,000 related jobs the wind lobby claims would have been lost with the credit’s expiration exist via the federal government’s largesse.
And of course, the Democrats and the Obama administration in particular have ‘invested’ way too much of their political capital and our money in the environmental lobby’s pet projects to not keep the sugar comin’, so the green industry in general got a bunch of shoutouts in the deal — ’cause hey, what’s a little pork among cronies?
The Senate packed an eclectic mix of handouts and takebacks into its last-minute deal to avoid the “fiscal cliff,” including a measure to repeal part of President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare overhaul and a string of special interest tax breaks. …
Among the other sweeteners:
Green energy was another big winner in the fiscal cliff bill. Roughly a dozen provisions would extend credits and incentives for plug-in electric vehicles, energy-efficient appliances, biodiesel and renewable diesel, and other alternative energy initiatives.
So… why would we ever want to follow up on the readily proffered examples of this frivolously interventionist attitude? Unintended consequences, say what?
High energy costs are emerging as an issue in Europe that is prompting debate, including questioning of the Continent’s clean energy initiatives. Over the past few years, Europe has spent tens of billions of euros in an effort to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. The bulk of the spending has gone into low-carbon energy sources like wind and solar power that have needed special tariffs or other subsidies to be commercially viable.
“We embarked on a big transition to a low-carbon economy without taking into account the cost and without factoring in the competitive impact,” says Fabien Roques, head of European power and carbon at the energy consulting firm IHS CERA in Paris. “I think there will be a critical review of some of these policies in the next few years.”
Update: At least somebody is paying attention up there:
A recently renewed wind power credit could face more scrutiny next Congress, as House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) told The Hill on Wednesday that the credit is of “serious interest” to his committee.
Issa criticized a “dramatic” alteration to the credit that he said amounted to an expansion of the program.
“In 24 hours the heavily subsidized wind industry has gone from the verge of collapse to a modern-day Gold Rush. H.R. 8 seems to create a perverse incentive to rush production of additional facilities even when there may not be adequate demand for wind, biomass, or geothermal energy,” Issa told The Hill in a statement.