In the past month, we’ve seen a barrage of ads in print, T.V. and social media, urging Sen. John Thune to keep the Production Tax Credit for wind energy intact. There were provisions in both the House and Senate Tax Reform Bills that would have curtailed it. Remember, the PTC was started in 1992, introduced by Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, as a “temporary” subsidy to get the wind energy industry on its feet. Now, 26 years and $176 billion in taxpayer subsidies later, it seems it’s still not on its feet. We need Thune to save it. And, he did. He saved the 50,000 jobs the AWEA said would be lost. At what cost? Federal taxpayer subsidies for wind energy are predicted to cost $23.7 billion between 2016 and 2020. Do the math. Each job costs the taxpayer $474,000. Does that make sense? It does for some. Next Era Energy, the world’s biggest producer of wind energy didn’t pay federal income tax from 2008 to 2015. Instead, they received a net credit of $313 million. Mid-American Energy (Warren Buffet) received $249 million in federal tax credits last year and $5.5 billion in tax credits and subsidies from wind energy, to date. Buffet is now building another 1,000 turbines over the next couple years to add to his 2020 turbines he owns now. According to OpenSecrets.org, in the election cycles 2016-2018 (to date) Thune received $130,500 and Rep. Kristi Noem $5,000 from Next Era Energy. Sen. Mike Rounds received $68,600 from Berkshire Hathaway and $41,500 from Next Era.
Wind energy is 30 to 40 percent efficient at best, and AWEA records show when the PTC has lapsed in the past, construction goes down by as much as 92 percent. So, although the PTC is supposed to be phased down to 40 percent by 2019, I predict by that time Thune and Grassley will be proposing legislation to prop it up again. After all, the only way to make wind energy more efficient (other than a few mechanical tweaks and increasing wind turbine height to 800 ft., as in Germany), is to figure out how to make wind blow all the time. That’s impossible and why wind chargers used in the ‘30s were replaced with hydro, coal and natural gas.
South Dakota was once a beautiful state, known for its tourism. When the people supposed to represent us get done promoting the erection of several thousand more 600 ft. wind turbines, what will they have done? It will turn pristine agricultural/recreational land into an ugly, industrial electricity generating factory. If this happens, we can thank Thune and Gov. Dennis Daugaard. Thune worked weeks of overtime prior to the final Tax Reform Bill’s passage, to ensure big multi-national corporations the PTC would be left intact. Next Era was his largest contributor in the last election cycle. The governor talks about budget shortfalls, but gives an out-of-state utility company $8.1 million of our tax dollars to build a wind farm in Codington County. Wind energy is the biggest example of crony capitalism in our lifetime. Wind turbines are only “subsidy meters,” nothing else. It’s sad to see our state and rural living destroyed for the financial gain of multi-national corporations, lobbyists and politicians. Very sad.
Gregg Hubner, Avon, is a farmer and real estate professional who has spent nearly eight years studying wind energy. In 2017, with the help of his son Jamin, they wrote a book called Paradise Destroyed: The Destruction of Rural Living by the Wind Energy Scam, where Gregg Hubner reveals wind energy development as a taxpayer scam. My Voice columns should be 500 to 700 words. Submissions should include a portrait-type photograph of the author. Authors also should include their full name, age, occupation and relevant organizational memberships.
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