Most people don’t realize that for more than 40 years the federal government has been subsidizing the development of wind and solar energy to produce electricity.
As justification, advocates for renewables like to claim that other energy sources also receive subsidies. What they don’t mention is that each kilowatt-hour of electricity generated from wind has received five times more subsidies than all other electricity sources combined, and solar has received 10 times more subsidies.
These subsidies tilt the energy markets by giving special tax breaks to companies that build and operate wind and solar facilities. One of these is a production tax credit, which is used mostly by wind developers, and the other is an investment tax credit, which subsidizes mostly solar installations. These tax credits make wind and solar less expensive to build and operate.
Generous tax credits have enabled wind and solar power to grow. However, this growth has pushed out other electricity sources, such as coal, that are better in many ways than wind and solar but do not receive huge tax breaks. Coal-based power plants can operate whenever they are needed. They are not dependent on the wind blowing or the sun shining. They also help make the electricity grid resilient against extreme weather events such as winter blizzards or the dog days of summer.
These tax credits were intended to be temporary, but Congress keeps extending them. The tax credit for wind is set to expire at the end of this year, but its advocates are pushing to extend it again. Their strategy is to include an extension in coronavirus legislation. At the same time these advocates are pushing for more tax breaks, they brag that “growth in the wind industry is expected to remain strong …” without tax credits, quoting the head of the American Wind Energy Association.
Enough is enough. Together we can stop these tax subsidies for renewables.
Jerry Grosz, Bismarck
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