- National Wind Watch: Wind Energy News - https://www.wind-watch.org/news -

Windfarm subsidies are good money after bad

In the summer of 2008, billionaire T. Boone Pickens placed an order with General Electric for wind turbines. The United States would be “the Saudi Arabia of wind.”

The so-called Pickens Plan received praise from Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid and others. Al Gore said other business leaders should “throw themselves into the fight for the future of our country,” just as Pickens was doing.

But despite more than $30 billion in taxpayer subsidies for “clean energy” projects like wind, new installations are down 72 percent from last year, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Perhaps it’s the overblown price of unreliable power.

As Robert Bryce, a senior fellow at the conservative Manhattan Institute pointed out, federal subsidies amount to $6.44 for every 1 million British thermal units produced by wind.

The spot-market price for natural gas is now $4 per 1 million Btu.

In September, the price for 1 million Btus from coal was $2.27.

Such differences make or break businesses and household budgets.

Yet government green-energy enthusiasts have put taxpayers in the position of paying at least 20 times more in government subsidies per unit of electricity generated by wind and solar than the average for the coal and natural gas industries, according to the Energy Information Administration.

The stimulus bill of 2009 included $30 billion for the “windustry,” as some of its supporters call it, or Big Wind, as some detractors say. American taxpayers pay 30 percent of the cost of a renewable energy project.

And yet even with all those subsidies, wind power isn’t working out.

If it were, Pickens would have stayed in the wind business. (He bailed out for natural gas.)

Despite unprecedented federal manipulations, the wind is out of the sails for wind turbines. Installations of wind turbines in the first half of 2010 were 57 percent below 2008 levels and 72 percent below 2009 levels.

And despite this administration’s hostility to coal and the greasing of the skids in favor of the wind industry, 39 percent of the growth of electric power capacity in the United States in the first nine months of this year came from coal. Only 14 percent came from wind.

Wind energy does not make economic sense either to consumers or capitalists, as Pickens discovered the hard way.

That leaves only government officials as true believers.