This is why wind energy can neither have nor produce nice things

posted at 9:21 pm on May 7, 2014 by Erika Johnsen

The wind lobby has yet to give up on their quest to renew the egregiously generous production tax credit that essentially keeps the wind industry afloat by providing 2.3 cents for every kilowatt-hour of energy output during the first ten years of a given project’s operation; that lucrative subsidy expired on January 1st of this year, but it wouldn’t be the first time — or the second, or the third –  that Congress has belatedly bestowed a retroactive extension. Most recently, the wind industry was awarded a one-year extension of the credit at the start of 2013, with the new and convenient condition that any project that simply began construction in 2013 would receive the full benefits of the credit (whereas in the past, installations had to be completed) — and for a demonstration of just how precious that credit really is, here are a couple of handy visuals via The Atlantic:

According to the AWEA, a Washington, D.C.-based trade group, wind turbine installations hit a record 8,385 megawatts in the fourth quarter of 2012 only to crash in the first quarter of 2013 to 1.6 megawatts—and, yes, the decimal place is in the right place. In other words, thousands of wind turbines went online at the end of 2012 to power about 2.1 million American homes. Three months later, about one more turbine had been installed, generating just enough juice to supply about 405 homes.

The downdraft continued in the first quarter of this year, according to the AWEA, when 133 turbines producing 433 megawatts went online. …

 

Read: Installations skyrocketed in 2012 before dropping off like crazy when the credit expired, and then when the credit was renewed with the new and more flexible condition that projects only needed to have begun construction before it expired at the end of 2013, a bunch of projects got in just under the wire. Could the wind industry’s utter dependence on government taxpayer “help” (which actually discourages the price efficiency that could make wind viable in the long run) be any more apparent?

But rather than heeding my umpteenth rant on the mind-boggling perversity of supporting a technology that so clearly cannot survive in the free market based on its own competitive merits, let’s mix it up and look to — oh, I don’t know — how about billionaire Warren Buffet, noted supporter of hiking taxes on the wealthy, in Omaha this past weekend? Via the editors of the WSJ:

So it was fascinating to hear Mr. Buffett explain that his real tax rule is to pay as little as possible, both personally and at the corporate level. “I will not pay a dime more of individual taxes than I owe, and I won’t pay a dime more of corporate taxes than we owe. And that’s very simple,” Mr. Buffett told Fortune magazine in an interview last week.

The billionaire was even more explicit about his goal of reducing his company’s tax payments. “I will do anything that is basically covered by the law to reduce Berkshire’s tax rate,” he said. “For example, on wind energy, we get a tax credit if we build a lot of wind farms. That’s the only reason to build them. They don’t make sense without the tax credit.”

Think about that one. Mr. Buffett says it makes no economic sense to build wind farms without a tax credit, which he gladly uses to reduce his company’s tax payments to the Treasury. So political favors for the wind industry induce a leading U.S. company to misallocate its scarce investment dollars for an uneconomic purpose. Berkshire and its billionaire shareholder get a tax break and the feds get less revenue, which must be made up by raising tax rates on millions of other Americans who are much less well-heeled than Mr. Buffett.

Just take a moment and let that really wash over you, and then take a gander at the still other subsidy-goodies the Obama administration is doling out to its politically preferred pet projects. …Just today. Via The Hill:

The Department of Energy (DOE) Wednesday said it will give up to $47 million each to three offshore wind power projects over the next four years to pioneer “innovative” technology.

The planned projects are off the costs of New Jersey, Oregon and Virginia. DOE said the money will help speed the deployment of efficient wind power technologies as part of the government’s effort to expand the use of wind power.


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I think it’s great for ‘bird control.’

listens2glenn on May 7, 2014 at 9:24 PM

Why not capitalize on a blowhard President?

Electrongod on May 7, 2014 at 9:28 PM

In the last 6 years(roughly)I’ve developed a real disdain for Buffet on a number of levels…

Tim Zank on May 7, 2014 at 9:29 PM

The answer is obvious then: Have the government subsidize everything and Utopia will be reached.

Man alive, I’d say I’m almost as intelligent as joana.

Bishop on May 7, 2014 at 9:31 PM

Maybe we can repurpose them for death row executions.

Scottie on May 7, 2014 at 9:32 PM

The Department of Energy (DOE) Wednesday said it will give up to $47 million each to three offshore wind power projects over the next four years to pioneer “innovative” technology

…and when they fail and they can’t account for the money…who will go to jail??

KOOLAID2 on May 7, 2014 at 9:32 PM

If only the government had all the money. Just think of all the good they could do. Utopia doesn’t even come close to describing it.

Just ask Winston Smith.

Wino on May 7, 2014 at 9:33 PM

There used to be a windmill on every farm. There’s a reason you don’t see them anymore. Now we have something that’s better and more cost effective. Electricity. Windmills had to be maintained. You had to get up there and oil the damn things. You had to buy new parts. But cost effective are words that sre not in the socialist’s dictionary.

crankyoldlady on May 7, 2014 at 9:36 PM

just make a law with a30-year permits to kill eagles without prosecution by the government..

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/05/02/bird-conservation-group-challenges-feds-over-wind-farm-eagle-deaths/

or fry the lil winged things..

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/apr/11/death-calif-solar-farms-71-species-bird-found-enti/

do we really care about things that fly..??
bugs fly.. we hate em.. what makes birds so special..
we must solve global warming..!! BHO

going2mars on May 7, 2014 at 9:38 PM

That Warren Buffett is a hypocrite is well know. He’s spent MILLIONS on lawyers over the last several years, fighting an IRS ruling that BK owes the US Treasury over ONE BILLION in taxes.

But then, Democrats don’t pay taxes.

GarandFan on May 7, 2014 at 9:41 PM

The Department of Energy (DOE) Wednesday said it will give up to $47 million each to three offshore wind power projects

Translation:
A bureaucracy of government hacks will spend more of your
money a things you would never choose to donate to.

Mimzey on May 7, 2014 at 9:44 PM

one Government Agency rules that you cant cut down the trees
because of the spotted owl..
another Government Agency rules wind turbines can kill
Owls and Eagles at will..
and or..Fry them over a Solar farm…gratis..

both sides efforts are Federally funded
and Federally backed..

we pay to both save, and kill these birds..

going2mars on May 7, 2014 at 9:49 PM

It doesn’t matter. They’re elegant.
So what if they kill birds.

vityas on May 7, 2014 at 9:50 PM

Future TOTUS text?

“First, I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a Muslim-built windmill on the sun and returning its energy efficiently to the earth.

No single climate disruption project in this period will be more impressive to mankind …”

ShainS on May 7, 2014 at 9:53 PM

in our lifetimes the shear size and power of the Central government has grown so large that it has deformed the country. We’ve always had powerful business people, but the pride with which the Oligarchy brags about selling the country down the river is mind numbing

that is why the GOP party is doomed…even if they cared about the future, the oligarchs would just throw them away for another set of sycophants.

especially dangerous if the ruling class tends to be a set of lunatics

r keller on May 7, 2014 at 9:56 PM

Wind energy will never be efficient; maintenance costs outweigh any potential benefits. The turbines are notorious for mechanical failure. They’re operational far less time than under repair.

But, being that I indicated a willingness to compromise on climate legislation earlier tonight, I’ll continue that here. Here’s my compromise:

Pick a state, say, Connecticut. Small state, majority leftists, environmentally conscious. Take them off the coal, nuclear, NG grid. Hook em up to win, only. Federally-funded wind farms. Buffet can build them and reap the tax benefits. But they’ve got to remain on wind for a year. If it works; if the residents are happy and thriving, then I’m in. Put a turbine on every building, in every backyard. If it doesn’t work, cease all federal funding and turn it over to the free market.

Either their science works, or it doesn’t.

BKeyser on May 7, 2014 at 10:01 PM

If your investing in a endeavor that isn’t favored by the government (unsubsidized), that makes you unpatriotic, and perhaps a terrorist. Keep watching the skies Koch brothers, keep watching the skies…

nemo on May 7, 2014 at 10:03 PM

It is a fabulous way for the ESTABLISHMENT(very electable I hear) to funnel taxpayer cash to the Chinese and donors.

Murphy9 on May 7, 2014 at 10:06 PM

Even Tillis got in on the Wind scam.

Murphy9 on May 7, 2014 at 10:06 PM

Barack Obama doesn’t care about the birds.

oryguncon on May 7, 2014 at 10:18 PM

There used to be a windmill on every farm. There’s a reason you don’t see them anymore. Now we have something that’s better and more cost effective. Electricity. Windmills had to be maintained. You had to get up there and oil the damn things. You had to buy new parts. But cost effective are words that sre not in the socialist’s dictionary.

crankyoldlady on May 7, 2014 at 9:36 PM

At lease the farm windmills could do something that these new ones can’t. The windmills in a pasture had massive stock tanks and the ones by the farmstead fed into cisterns that could hold several thousands of gallons of water. Didn’t need a backup online.

wifarmboy on May 7, 2014 at 10:20 PM

Corrections:

According to the AWEA, a Washington, D.C.-based trade group, wind turbine installations hit a record 8,385 megawatts (when the wind is blowing at the right speed) in the fourth quarter of 2012 only to crash in the first quarter of 2013 to 1.6 megawatts (when the wind is blowing at the right speed) —and, yes, the decimal place is in the right place. In other words, thousands of wind turbines went online at the end of 2012 to power about 2.1 million American homes (when the wind is blowing at the right speed). Three months later, about one more turbine had been installed, generating just enough juice to supply about 405 homes (when the wind is blowing at the right speed).

The downdraft continued in the first quarter of this year, according to the AWEA, when 133 turbines producing 433 megawatts (when the wind is blowing at the right speed) went online. …

slickwillie2001 on May 7, 2014 at 10:20 PM

BKeyser on May 7, 2014 at 10:01 PM

Why a state? Let Washington live on wind.

wifarmboy on May 7, 2014 at 10:24 PM

It was Climate Change that killed Vince Foster

… and it was Climate Change who “out”-ed Ms Flame

… Climate Change murdered JFK

J_Crater on May 7, 2014 at 11:04 PM

wifarmboy on May 7, 2014 at 10:24 PM

Ordinarily I’d agree with you on that but shutting down DC’s economy -which this would do- would be detrimental to my pocket book. And a lot of New York libs looking to escape New York taxes live in Connecticut, so, no heartburn for me.

I’m selfish that way.

BKeyser on May 7, 2014 at 11:32 PM

Given the costs of manufacturing, transporting, installing, and maintaining windmills, it is virtually impossible for them to produce any NET energy over the course of their expected lifetimes. It’s a total scam, a complete boondoggle.

Boone Pickens and Warren Buffett don’t give a rat’s patootie about green energy, but they care deeply about green money.

Adjoran on May 8, 2014 at 12:08 AM

Stupidity on stilts.

literally!

Lonetown on May 8, 2014 at 6:38 AM

“In other words, thousands of wind turbines went online at the end of 2012 to power about 2.1 million American homes.” until the very instant the wind dies down or stops blowing. Then some other load balancing source, generally gas or coal fired, has to instantly increase its output to compensate for the sudden loss of the wind generated output. For each wind turbine there must be an equal sized back up source, built, manned, running, and waiting.

Viator on May 8, 2014 at 6:59 AM

When will someone writing an article or doing an interview with Buffett respond to his “Billionaire’s should be taxed more.” rhetoric with, “why don’t you pay more then, you hypocrite?”

The whole Keystone XL thing is being held up so he can make more money on transporting the product on his Norfolk and Southern railroad. Why won’t the MSM cover this?

talkingpoints on May 8, 2014 at 7:04 AM

Would it be toxic for a Republican to go on the floor in response to every time Reid does one of his Koch rants and do a Buffett rant or a Steyer rant talking about how they are stealing from the average taxpayer in the form of tax subsidies and jobs(by blocking the Keystone pipeline)?

Is there a secure seat in a mature Republican who wouldn’t be vulnerable, isn’t running for President, can’t be used to taint the party as a whole?

Potentially this could bring visibility to these issues, or might get Reid to give it a rest.

talkingpoints on May 8, 2014 at 7:11 AM

“Is there a secure seat in a mature Republican who wouldn’t be vulnerable, isn’t running for President, can’t be used to taint the party as a whole?”

Ted Cruz is the only Republican Senator with the guts to do exactly what you have asked for, and look at the PR campaign that has already been mounted against him because he does it.

Now maybe he’s not “mature”; but haven’t you noticed that the so-called “mature” republican senators are no different in any real aspect than the democrats they nominally oppose?

Tom Servo on May 8, 2014 at 8:16 AM

I HATE links that are behind some kind of wall!!

If I want to post it to all of my stupid liberal “friends” on Facebook, I want them able to read it by simply clicking the link!!! If they can’t read it, they’re too stupid and/or lazy to actually log in and learn something!!

ManWithNoName on May 8, 2014 at 9:00 AM

When the greenies have a table at the mall trying to get me to get an alternate energy company, (i.e. windmills) I ask them if the windmill factory is powered by windmills.

One lied to me a told me it was.

I tell them I’ll consider it when the factory is powered by windmills.

Wander on May 8, 2014 at 10:12 AM

Fugetabout the birds – look at all those windmills lined up facing the same direction – they’re going to slow down the earth’s rotation, which of course means we’ll have longer days, so more daylight to get things done. We’ll all be incredibly more productive….

dentarthurdent on May 8, 2014 at 10:49 AM

What do you get, when you cross a flock of birds with a Wind farm?

Shredded tweet!

LouisianaLightning on May 8, 2014 at 11:38 AM

What do you get, when you cross a flock of birds with a Wind farm?

Shredded tweet!

LouisianaLightning on May 8, 2014 at 11:38 AM

a solar farm…

crispy tweets
or
KFC…

going2mars on May 8, 2014 at 11:42 AM

after Shredded tweet..
I couldn’t resist…sorry

going2mars on May 8, 2014 at 11:43 AM

a solar farm…

crispy tweets
or
KFC…

Not bad. Didn’t think about solar farms before :-)

LouisianaLightning on May 8, 2014 at 11:45 AM

mine was only an add on..
you wrote the original joke…
and ..it was funny…

both are sadly true…

going2mars on May 8, 2014 at 11:48 AM

now if they could lower the windmill
they would get shredded beef..
and thus eliminate cow farts..
so it would be even more Green..

going2mars on May 8, 2014 at 11:50 AM

The Department of Energy (DOE) Wednesday said it will give up to $47 million each to three offshore wind power projects over the next four years to pioneer “innovative” technology.

The planned projects are off the costs of New Jersey, Oregon and Virginia. DOE said the money will help speed the deployment of efficient wind power technologies as part of the government’s effort to expand the use of wind power.

And after 4 years, the count of dead whales and dolphins washing up on the shores of New Jersey, Oregon and Virginia will prompt the EPA to ban all offshore wind projects, due the extreme noise levels disrupting the sonar used by sea mammals for navigation.

That’s government for you.

s1im on May 8, 2014 at 12:41 PM

And after 4 years, the count of dead whales and dolphins washing up on the shores of New Jersey, Oregon and Virginia will prompt the EPA to ban all offshore wind projects, due the extreme noise levels disrupting the sonar used by sea mammals for navigation.

That’s government for you.

s1im on May 8, 2014 at 12:41 PM

When the wind companies go bankrupt, the corporations will walk away from the towers and wind generators, and taxpayers will end up paying for the salvage operation.

slickwillie2001 on May 8, 2014 at 2:42 PM