CHIPPEWA FALLS – U.S. Rep. Tom Tiffany plans to introduce legislation that would eliminate most subsidies for solar and wind energy projects on farm land.
Tiffany, R-Minocqua, said he doesn’t want land that is producing food to be taken out of production so it can instead produce energy.
“If you want to put in wind and solar, go ahead, but don’t do it on the backs of taxpayers,” Tiffany said Thursday during a stop at 29 Pines restaurant in the town of Wheaton. “We want to make sure we preserve farm land. You just won’t receive the subsidies to do that, if you remove productive agriculture land from production.”
Tiffany said utility companies who are putting solar and wind projects on farm land are driving up the price for renting property, because they are getting the subsidy they use to pay for the land.
“Because of the subsidy, it is distorting the marketplace,” Tiffany said.
Tiffany said it is important to keep all farm land in production.
“Growing our own food is going to be one of the most important things for our country’s national security,” he said. “I’m alarmed we are going to take productive farm land out of production.”
Isaac Orr, a policy adivsor with the Minneapolis-based Center of the American Experiment think tank, explained that the energy subsidy pays a utility company $24 per megawatt hour produced. The company can also write off 30% of the cost of the project.
Orr said that solar panels only produce 16% of the potential output, and wind turbines have a similar low output. Solar energy produces less in the winter months, and wind power energy only generates electricity when the wind is blowing, he explained.
“There is no storage mechanism for energy,” Orr added, saying to think of it as “a highway, not a parking lot.”
Wisconsin uses 7,014 megawatts on average, Orr said.
“It would take 2.6 million acres of wind farms to produce that,” he said.
Tiffany is the sponsor of the Future Agriculture Retention and Management (FARM) Act. He is hopeful he will get bipartisan support for the measure. He said it would likely go to the House Agriculture Committee for review.
Tiffany, who represents the Seventh Congressional District that covers northwest Wisconsin, was elected in May 2020, replacing Sean Duffy, who stepped down to spend more time with his family. At this time, Tiffany does not have an announced challenger to his seat this fall.
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