Congress once again circling back to the wind production tax credit that refuses to quit

posted at 1:21 pm on May 16, 2014 by Erika Johnsen

We are already well into the fifth month of 2014, and the expired 2.3 cents/kilowatt-hour production tax credit by which the wind industry lives and dies is still just that — expired. While I would call that major progress in learning to let go and suggest that the PTC should stay expired forever, rather than Congress belatedly renewing it as it has after the PTC’s periodic expiration dates over the past two-plus decades, the wind industry’s well-monied lobby is reliably still courting (and I do mean “courting“) that ever-likely possibility. The lobbyists have finally succeeded in getting their goodies back on the mainstream Congressional agenda, with their usual champions workin’ the floor with legislation that would extend the credit for yet another two interminable years as part of a gigantic package of various tax extenders:

The US Senators from Colorado are hoping to salvage a renewal of the wind production tax credit, a policy that is bundled into a bill that stalled on Thursday in a procedural move. …

For them, this is about the four manufacturing plants in Colorado owned by Vestas, which makes wind turbines and employs nearly 2,000 people.

“These are good, American, high-paying jobs,” said Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colorado,) who approached 9NEWS together with Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colorado) for an interview about the credit. …

The tax credit goes to wind farms for the energy their turbines produce. Wind projects under construction by the end of 2015 would get the credit for ten years.

It’s a big incentive, which leads wind project investors to buy more turbines from Vestas.

“When we’ve let the production tax credit languish, then you have seen this drawback,” said Udall, referencing past layoffs by turbine makers.

Right, which is precisely why we should let the production tax credit languish — i.e., because wind energy is highly dependent on taxpayer largesse (the PTC is a major yet only one of the myriad forms of special treatment that the federal government bestows upon the industry), and it will never be able to compete on its on competitive merits until it is pushed out of the nest and forced to innovate more effectively. Wind energy in the U.S. has lived in a constant boom-and-bust cycle perpetuated by the PTC for over twenty years, while its apologists insist that, this time, renewing the credit for just a couple more short years will provide the wind industry with everything it needs to compete. Still waiting, ya’ll.

The wind-production tax credit should not be renewed for three principal reasons:

1) It wastes money. The proposed two-year extension would cost taxpayers nearly $13 billion over the next 10 years, according to the Joint Congressional Committee on Taxation. In 2013, when Congress renewed the subsidy for one year, the cost was nearly $12 billion over 10 years. This is more than the federal government spends on energy research in one year.

A better use of taxpayer dollars would be to reduce the ballooning federal debt or to invest in research to find new forms of cheap, clean, reliable electricity. For example, what about a substantial cash prize from the U.S. Department of Energy for creating a truly commercial use for carbon captured from coal and natural-gas plants? Such a discovery would be the Holy Grail of clean energy—permitting the use of coal world-wide to produce an abundant supply of cheap, clean, reliable electricity to reduce poverty while protecting the environment. …


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No different (except for scale) than the guy looting Heinekens after Katrina.

Murphy9 on May 16, 2014 at 1:25 PM

Hell even T. Boone gave up on wind years ago, and he was the biggest supporter of this tax credit. When you can’t even make enough money for Pickens with it, that tells you something.

lowandslow on May 16, 2014 at 1:33 PM

Congress clearly isn’t representing the American People anymore.

ConstantineXI on May 16, 2014 at 1:33 PM

For example, what about a substantial cash prize from the U.S. Department of Energy for creating a truly commercial use for carbon captured from coal and natural-gas plants?

…maybe if we spent a trillion dollars developing plants used for crops that could somehow turn the inert yet highly dangerous CO2 emissions into pure O2 oxygen. That would be a breakthrough.

Capricio on May 16, 2014 at 1:39 PM

I think I’m going to blow on a twirly bird and ask for a wind energy grant. If I make a donation to OFA first, how much you wanna bet I get that grant?

NOMOBO on May 16, 2014 at 1:39 PM

The United States has seen people attempting to generate power commercially with wind since the 1930′s. This is NOT new technology, there is NO reason to subsidize it. There is no evidence that wind power is of any benefit whatsoever except as a vehicle for “redistribution of wealth” from the pockets of tax payers and rate payers into the pockets of the entrenched interests lobbying lawmakers for these subsidies.

80 years is long enough. If it can’t survive without the subsidy, it NEEDS to die.

crosspatch on May 16, 2014 at 1:41 PM

That would be a breakthrough.

Capricio on May 16, 2014 at 1:39 PM

.
I see what you did there!

ExpressoBold on May 16, 2014 at 1:49 PM

Until we get the avian population under control, I say keep ‘em going.

listens2glenn on May 16, 2014 at 1:52 PM

Corporate welfare, crony socialism.

Govt running wild.

petefrt on May 16, 2014 at 2:05 PM

A better use of taxpayer dollars would be to reduce the ballooning federal debt or to invest in research to find new forms of cheap, clean, reliable electricity.

A better use of Taxpayer dollars is to not collect them and let the Taxpayers spend that money on what they want, that will stimulate the economy more than Wind Power, but that ain’t gonna happen.

Johnnyreb on May 16, 2014 at 2:07 PM

Johnnyreb on May 16, 2014 at 2:07 PM

+1

Reagan was so popular because he understood one thing: Government should leave the people the heck alone to the extent that it can. Unfortunately, Reagan never got a Republican Congress.

crosspatch on May 16, 2014 at 2:09 PM

If I were an econazi against wind turbines, here is what I would say:

1) Turbines are a threat to endangered avian species. More birds are killed by wind turbines daily than by any other man-made structure.
2) Turbines are a drain on resources. The energy required to make one along with the low-density energy produced makes a poor resource investment, especially when you consider the maintenance.
3) Turbines are ugly, and clutter up the skyline.
4) Turbines are noisy.
5) Anyone who disagrees is a moronic idiot and an insult to Mother Gaia. Ridicule and shout-downs will ensue, as well as biological relief upon your personal properties.

Turtle317 on May 16, 2014 at 2:12 PM

1) Turbines are a threat to endangered avian species. More birds are killed by wind turbines daily than by any other man-made structure.

Yep and solar facilities make their contribution to killing and maiming wildlife as well:

A new report by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service finds that solar facilities in California are acting like “mega traps” that kill and injure birds. As a result, “entire food chains” are being disrupted.

The three main causes of death were:
1. Solar flux: Exposure to temperatures over 800 degrees F.

2. Impact (or blunt force) trauma: The birds’ wings are rendered inoperable while flying, causing them to crash into the ground. Birds that do not die are often injured badly enough to make them vulnerable to predators.

3. Predators: When a bird’s wings are singed and it can not fly, it loses its primary means of defense against animals like foxes and coyotes.

The greenie environmentalists should be proud!

hawkeye54 on May 16, 2014 at 2:44 PM

Corporate welfare, crony socialism.

Govt running wild.

petefrt on May 16, 2014 at 2:05 PM

You betcha! We’ll get a CONgressional investigative select committee on that pronto so we can call in witnesses, get their testimony, hold somebody in contempt and write up a report to have on file just to satisfy everyone that we’ve done something. Problem solved.

hawkeye54 on May 16, 2014 at 2:47 PM

Your flacking for the corporate masters has never been so transparent. Let’s abandon renewable energy in order to fund research to squeeze another couple of percent out of a tremendously destructive process like coal? Look up the definition of the term “renewable”, genius.

Constantine on May 16, 2014 at 3:47 PM

No such thing as renewable energy. Or green energy for that matter.

Murphy9 on May 16, 2014 at 3:56 PM

No such thing as renewable energy. Or green energy for that matter.

Murphy9 on May 16, 2014 at 3:56 PM

There is, however, such a thing as rich socialist money.

crankyoldlady on May 16, 2014 at 4:31 PM

Still waiting, ya’ll.

Oh, dear, Erika!
Even lib got it right!

Y’all haven’t heard of Brer Rabbit stories I see…

libfreeordie on May 15, 2014 at 7:49 PM

AesopFan on May 16, 2014 at 4:45 PM

As a resident of CO, I’m embarrassed. Clearly the 2 idiotic Dem Senators do not speak for the birds.

COgirl on May 16, 2014 at 4:55 PM

The strongest economic argument against the PTC is that it distorts markets, directing capital to less efficient uses. Also it complicates power grid management.

The argument that it’s wasting taxpayer dollars is mostly incorrect, outside of hatching more bureaucrats. The PTC isn’t costing taxpayers money like grants do (eg solyndra). The PTC is a tax credit which means the government in fact takes in less.

I don’t support a PTC specifically for renewable energy. I support a PTC across the board for everyone!

Uncledave on May 16, 2014 at 5:07 PM