Penn State Behrend Professor John Paul Rossi promotes the production tax credit, a subsidy for the wind industry, in his recent op-ed column (Erie Times-News, Dec. 8).
I have a different viewpoint. My research shows that production tax credit subsidies add billions of dollars of hidden costs and undermine the reliability of our electric grid. Most of the wind industry’s arguments supporting the PTC represent a case of “rent seeking” by an established industry wanting to maintain profits through a generous subsidy, at taxpayer’s expense.
Dr. Lesser, an economics textbook author, has researched almost four years of electric production in our grid. He found that more than 84 percent of the installed wind turbines failed to produce electricity when electric demand was greatest.
I drive through Somerset County in the summer and see hundreds of motionless turbines that do not deliver any power when there is high demand. The July 2012 heat wave was a perfect example. Dr. Lesser has found that the cost of integrating fluctuating wind power into the grid adds $500 million per year nationwide in costs.
Rossi mentions that Pennsylvania has 910 megawatts of wind capacity. Lesser shows that wind’s median availability is only 25.9 percent in our grid. The 910 MW of installed capacity really equals 235.7 MW of output. Who would want to receive electricity only 25.9 percent of the time? That’s what would happen if our homes were powered by electricity only produced from wind turbines.
Rossi is correct when he states that wind energy creates jobs. Construction jobs are temporary and out-of-state workers fill many of them. Operation/maintenance jobs are permanent, but limited to 3 to 5 full-time employees for many projects.
More than 75 percent of the wind capacity is in just 11 states. Why should taxpayers across the country have to support this industry? The PTC is a handout that distorts markets and allows unfair competition.
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