Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney proved himself a long missing voice of reason recently with his promise to end a renewable energy subsidy. It’s a welcome contrast to the economic fairy dust President Barack Obama is spreading these days.
Romney told the Des Moines Register that, if elected, he would let the Production Tax Credit for electricity generated from renewable sources expire, so as to “create a level playing field” for energy sources. (A Senate committee has voted to renew the credit.) A campaign spokesman later said Romney remained a “strong supporter” of wind power.
In the battleground state of Iowa, where many farmers lease land to windmill operators, Obama mocked Romney’s earlier remark that “You can’t drive a car with a windmill on top.”
Said Obama, “I know he’s had other things on his car” – a too-cute dig at Romney’s famous trip with the family pooch on top. Still, Romney is correct: Wind does nothing for transportation fuels.
Obama asserted that wind power supports 7,000 Iowa jobs and 73,000 nationwide.
Iowa, like Massachusetts and 28 other states, requires utilities to get a certain percentage of their power from renewable sources (usually at above-market prices). Jobs supported by legal coercion and public subsidies are nothing to brag about.
How many jobs would be supported by use of efficient natural gas turbines instead of windmills? How many jobs would be generated by the federal subsidy if that money went elsewhere? We weren’t told that. (The subsidy, a tax credit of 2.2 cents per kilowatt-hour produced, could amount to $192,000 for every day the Cape Wind project, for example, delivers full contracted electricity to NStar [NST] and National Grid.)
Obama criticized subsidies to the oil industry, said to be $4 billion a year. Let’s abolish any true subsidies there too. Level playing fields are always best.
Our country faces budget deficits as far as the eye can see and will never control them until politicians show self-discipline in doing favors that benefit any one generator of energy or another.