Most of the 82 federal programs designed to support wind energy had “overlapping characteristics,” and several “provided some duplicative financial support,” according to a Government Accountability Office report released Thursday.
The report said the initiatives amounted to $2.9 billion of obligated expenses and at least $1.1 billion of subsides for wind power in 2011. Most of those subsidies financed construction and use of turbines, the report said.
The efforts spanned nine agencies, including the Energy (DOE), Interior, Agriculture (USDA), Commerce and Treasury departments.
“GAO identified 7 initiatives that have provided duplicative support—financial support from multiple initiatives to the same recipient for deployment of a single project. Specifically, wind project developers have in many cases combined the support of more than 1 Treasury initiative and, in some cases, have received additional support from smaller grant or loan guarantee programs at DOE or USDA,” the report said.
A House GOP committee chairman used the report to bash federal financial support for wind power, saying it amounted to wasted spending.
“Despite this duplication, the administration wants to expand federal spending even further. We should eliminate duplication, not throw more money at overlapping initiatives. We should also redirect efforts toward research that will help renewable energy companies compete without taxpayer subsidies,” House Science, Space and Technology Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) said in a statement.
On subsidies, the report noted that the production tax credit “almost solely” provided the $1.1 billion total.
The credit pays wind power producers 2.2 cents per kilowatt-hour of wind generation.
Democrats and President Obama fought to extend the credit through this year as part of the “fiscal cliff” deal struck in January. They, along with the wind industry, say it’s vital for maintaining jobs.
But conservative Republicans are rallying to block another extension, likely queuing up another political battle for the end of this year.