Wind In My Props
John Fund is almost always reasonable, though usually very single-minded, in his opinions, but I’m still a bit surprised at the tone in this post at NRO this morning. He’s got his dander up agaisnt the renewing of the wind energy tax credit.
The project is a godsend for many utilities seeking to lower their tax liabilities. “Just simply, 30% of the value of a project is derived from the tax credit,” Florian Zerhusen, chief executive of WKN USA, told the Denver Business Journal. The subsidy is one of the least defensible of all alternative-energy programs, given the environmental damage wind turbines cause to birds and the fact that wind energy can’t be stored and is therefore an unreliable energy ource.
Honestly, some of that argument sounds like the confused ones that the left side pulls out when one of their green energy projects actually gets the green light, and then they have to protest it. Yes, wind turbines kill birds. So do power transmission lines if the bird lands too close to the insulator. So do highways if the bird swoops in front of a truck. And really, no energy can be stored. The fun of the power transmission grid is that power that’s generated has to be used. The only “battery” I can really think of in the power system is the water in a lake behind a dam. Once you burn coal, you can’t store that energy. Once you release the control rod, you can’t store the energy of the nuclear reaction. You get the point.
Understand, I still believe that we could benefit from dumping the tax loopholes for all the energy projects out there, and instead do R&D funding in targeted grant fashion to drive new energy costs down. The energy industry should be able to figure out how to build a turbine on its own as opposed to grabbing your and my money to do it. As Fund notes in a prior article, wind energy gets a disproportionate share of tax benefits, and those go mostly to large companies already producing power.
So let’s argue on the facts of why an energy industry already backed by so much money needs more money to stay afloat. If it can’t after all the arguments are done, then we have a reason to stop the funding. But the emotional appeals don’t work for me, especially when they ring so hollow. Leave that to the side that can’t produce any energy in a consistent fashion.