$Billions in Endless Wind Power Subsidies: Nothing Short of State Sponsored Theft

randy and jordan

Randy Simmons and Jordon Lofthouse: with no bang for
$billions in subsidy bucks, just what are we paying for?


Here’s a couple of pieces penned by boys who start from the right end of the great wind power fraud equation.

Randy T. Simmons, Ph.D., is director of the Institute for Political Economy and professor of political economy at Utah State University. He also serves as president of Strata Policy, a public policy think tank in Logan. Jordan Lofthouse is a policy analyst at Strata Policy.

Governments that have drunk the wind industry “Kool Aid” (see our post here) can never front up to the first hard question: what happens in the power generation market when the wind does what it’s done since the dawn of time (ie stop blowing)?

And, having fudged on that less than minor issue, are all at sea when it comes to the second “biggy”: if power consumers and taxpayers are being hit-up for $billions to subsidise a technology that was abandoned in the 19th Century for obvious reasons (see our post here), then just what are they actually getting in return?

STT has always thought that that little pair of posers, are both fair and fatal. As laid out in these pieces, it becomes painfully obvious that, as a meaningful power source, wind power is simply patent nonsense; and that gouging $billions in a Never Ending Subsidy Story (see our post here) is nothing short of State sponsored theft.

Stop dumping billions into unreliable wind power
The Salt Lake City Tribune
Randy T. Simmons and Jordan Lofthouse
7 March 2015

During George W. Bush’s administration, the Department of Energy set a wildly unrealistic goal to have 20 percent of the nation’s electricity come from wind by 2030. Now, the Obama Administration wishes to fulfill that goal by passing permanent subsidies for wind power.

Wind power has gained a reputation as the future of energy generation, but few wind power advocates seem willing to answer the pertinent question, “What happens when the wind doesn’t blow?” Honestly answering that question means we must acknowledge how undeniably unreliable wind power is. The next logical step should be to stop dumping tens of billions of taxpayer dollars into such a fickle energy source.

In 2014, wind energy only supplied 1.6 percent of total U.S. energy consumption. But, with the growing list of tax incentives, subsidies, federal goals and mandates for wind, we must consider all the implications of boosting wind’s market share.

The first problem with wind is inconsistency. Wind’s inability to supply electricity on a consistent basis renders it dependent on more reliable sources of energy for backup, such as nuclear, coal and natural gas. Wind energy can supplement these conventional sources, but it’s not capable of supplying the base load of power that the country needs.

The inconsistency of wind power also forces us to “cycle” coal, natural gas and hydropower generators in the background so that we can kick them into high gear when the wind stops blowing. Cycling presents its own set of economic and environmental problems, but this is the only way grid operators can drastically increase electricity output whenever demand increases unexpectedly.

The second problem with wind is its low productivity. The amount of energy a wind farm actually produces on average pales in comparison to the energy that it could at full capacity. Wind power only produces its full capacity 20 to 40 percent of the time, as opposed to 70 to 90 percent for coal-fired power, or 60 to 100 percent for nuclear power.

The third problem with wind is the inordinate amount of space required to produce a reasonable amount of energy. Consistent wind blowing at the right speed would require an area about the size of Texas to meet 2005 U.S. electricity demands. However, because wind rarely blows at an optimal speed, much more space would be needed. Are Americans willing to give up the same land area as entire states to reach the DOE’s goal of 20 percent wind power by 2030?

Traditional sources of energy like coal, nuclear and hydro have a huge advantages. We know the amount of available fuel precisely, and we know when we can use that fuel. Wind power may be a nice supplement to our energy portfolio, but we should stop pouring billions of taxpayer dollars into a system that is not predictable, efficient, or reliable. Let the market decide if wind power is worth the investment, not government bureaucrats.
The Salt Lake Tribune


Being stuck in the “doldrums” is just so “19th Century”.


What do we have to show for government subsidies of wind power?
The Hill
Randy T. Simmons and Jordan Lofthouse
24 February 2015

For the past 23 years, the federal government has subsidized wind power with tens of billions of taxpayer dollars through the Production Tax Credit (PTC). What do we have to show for it? Wind energy only supplied 1.6 percent of total U.S. energy in 2014. Now the Department of Energy wants to reach a ridiculous goal of 20 percent wind energy by 2030. The fledgling wind industry has no hope of reaching that goal on its own, and the government wants to stick the American taxpayer with the bill to sustain an industry that can’t sustain itself.

The PTC was originally intended to give the wind industry the kickstart it needed to be self-sufficient. But, despite wind energy’s 23-year reliance on fiscal training wheels, the Obama administration now wants to make the PTC permanent. Let that sink in a little bit. The government is considering the creation of an endless welfare system for big wind companies. If that isn’t crony capitalism, I don’t know what is.

The only reason wind energy has hobbled along is because of the government crutch that props it up. What does a permanent government subsidy say about the true viability of the wind industry? It proves that the wind industry is fully dependent on government handouts and can’t ever be independent. So, why do we continue to allow our tax dollars to be thrown at an enterprise that cannot support itself in the foreseeable future? That’s the question no politician wants to answer.

Not only does the PTC make the wind industry dependent on government funds, it takes money from the average American and gives it to the super-wealthy. The PTC is really a reverse Robin Hood, taking money from the poor to give to the rich. Money-savvy Warren Buffett fully realizes that the wind industry is not economically productive without the government there to push it along. Buffett said, “[O]n 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.” While the PTC exists, private investors like multibillionaire Warren Buffett are able to profit at the taxpayers’ expense.

Every time the PTC is set to expire, investments in wind energy plummet. In 2000, 2002 and 2004, new wind installations dropped significantly when the PTC expired. But the government renewed the PTC after each crash, allowing the wind industry to limp along on the taxpayer’s dime. In 2013, the PTC was expected to expire once again, and new wind installations fell by 92 percent. Big wind breathed a sigh of relief, however, when later in the year Congress added a provision to the American Taxpayer Relief Act that allowed projects constructed before 2014 to receive the tax credit. The construction of wind farms resumed. In keeping with that trend, Obama’s 2016 budget proposal would make the PTC permanent, eternally prying money out of the American taxpayer’s wallet for this failed initiative.

Must the American people tolerate paying at least $12 billion annually in tax-funded PTC money to prop up the wind industry indefinitely? If wind energy is the panacea that politicians claim, it should be capable of standing on its own. The wind industry has had 23 years of government assistance to become independently profitable, and even though it still isn’t, the Obama administration thinks the solution is a never-ending cycle of crony capitalism.
The Hill

highwayman lg

There’s no cause for alarm: it is, after all, government policy.

About stopthesethings

We are a group of citizens concerned about the rapid spread of industrial wind power generation installations across Australia.

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