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Turbine should be privately funded

The July 12 Newport Daily News reports that a new gearbox will be required to fix the Portsmouth wind turbine at a cost of as much as $500,000. Can you imagine how the taxpayers in that town feel? This is just one more example as to why risking taxpayer dollars on a green-energy boondoggle is pure folly.

Haven’t we learned yet that mixing political goals with taxpayer funding is a formula for disaster. First it was the Solyndra debacle where the federal government wasted $535 million of taxpayer money on a scheme to create green energy jobs in the solar panel industry. Net result: Bankruptcy.

Then the state of Rhode Island threw $75 million of taxpayer money down the drain with its loan guarantee to 38 Studios, which is now bankrupt. The guarantee was for the purpose of “creating jobs” – a noble political goal, but no private investors would touch this deal because of its risk.

And now we have an example of a financial debacle on the local level with the Portsmouth wind turbine. Our capitalist system works because the goal of any investment is to make money. This filters out risky, non-viable investment opportunities – they don’t get funded. As soon as you divert attention away from making money to funding projects for political goals, non-viable projects begin to surface.

It’s time for the town to realize that a commercial enterprise, such as generating electricity, should be funded with private risk capital not taxpayer money. If the venture loses money, then the private investors are on the hook for the losses. Risking hard-earned taxpayer money for the political purpose of being green will only result in our town following the disastrous path of Solyndra, 38 Studios and the Portsmouth wind turbine.

Gerry Bay Newport Street Jamestown