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Wind is not free

Erroneous and misinformation can be damaging and dangerous. In listening to a local radio station call in show recently, I heard both erroneous and misinformation from the hosts of the program and the callers. First and foremost was the lack of knowledge concerning the cost of electricity generated by wind power. There seemed to be general consensus that wind power cost is zero.

Windmill generated electricity is heavily subsidized by federal taxes. That means you and me. All electricity produced in the United States, oil and gas, hydro, coal, nuclear, solar, and wind, enjoys subsidies from the federal government. That doesn’t make sense, with most electrical producers making huge profits, but that is the way government takes care of vital industries in the United States. An example is the oil depletion allowance for oil companies.

To set the record straight, here are the subsidies for each form of energy produced in the U.S. In a report from the Department of Energy entitled “Direct Federal Financial Interventions and Subsidies in Energy in Fiscal Year 2010” it identifies $37.16 billion in federal subsidies. Included are special tax breaks, research and development, etc.

One must remember, these so-called government subsidies are your tax dollars. Following are costs to the taxpayer for the various sources of electrical power.

The subsidy for Gas and Oil was $654 million or $0.64 per megawatt hour, Hydropower $215 million or $0.82 per megawatt hour, Coal $1,189 million or $0.64 per megawatt hour, Nuclear $2,499 billion or $3.14 per megawatt hour, Solar $968 million or $775.64 per megawatt hour, and Wind $4,986 billion or $56.29 per megawatt hour. The conclusion shows wind to be the most heavily subsidized by the tax payer. Wind is not free!!

For every $1 that goes to coal, oil, and natural gas, wind gets $88. Various studies reveal that wind power is the leading recipient of tax payer dollars. If and when federal subsidies for wind power are eliminated, the turbines will not only be generating high cost electricity, also mountains of red ink. The major problem facing the wind generating companies is lack of viability without government subsidies.

In addition to needing federal subsidies to survive, the wind generators are net drains on the United States Treasury. At least the coal, oil, and natural gas industries pay taxes. In 2009, coal, oil, and natural gas collectively paid $10 billion, while wind was draining billions from the Treasury.

The subject of subsidies for all energy producers bears discussion. Eliminating all energy subsidies would lower the federal budget deficit by about $3 billion. Most American companies operate without federal subsidies, why the special treatment for the energy producing companies?

If federal subsidies were eliminated, the American people would determine what energy sources preferred and eliminate marginal operations.

In conclusion, the issue surrounding the Tipton County proposed wind farm doesn’t meet the “Smell Test”. Too many Tipton County politicians are personally involved with land agreements. They have protected themselves legally with “arm length agreements such as “Trusts”.

An advertisement in a local paper from land owners and farmers in Tipton County states, “proud to help bring wind energy to this community.” The statement should have continued, “and income to the landowners while destroying many tangible benefits for surrounding land owners.”

How can anyone, and especially farmers who have protected and nourished the land, allow desecration to occur. The answer, despite protestations to the contrary, is simply money. The landowners and politicians of Tipton County are allowing financial gain for a few to destroy the dreams of the many.