This week the American Wind Energy Association’s (AWEA) CEO Tom Kiernan published an op-ed at The Hill‘s Congress Blog titled “The State of the Wind Industry is Strong.” We noticed that Mr. Kiernan’s piece omitted several important points about the state of American wind energy, so we took it upon ourselves to make those additions for him, our edits in red.
The state of the wind lobbying industry is strong
The strength of the U.S. wind industry is
attracting the notice of a mirage built on massive subsidies from the highest levels of government. In his State of the Union address, President Obama noted that the U.S. leads the world in wind generation, as well as being fleeced.
The fact that the U.S. is #1 – leading even China — comes from an analysis by EDF Renewable Energy executive Dr. James Walker, former CEO of the AWEA, which is the DC-based lobbying arm of the wind industry. Wind energy is an American success story: the U.S. invented utility-scale wind farms, and by investing in them here in the U.S., we now have some of the best infrastructure with a 20-year life span—that turns out to be much less in reality—this country has ever built.
How did we become #1? Well, to be honest, wind is #1 when we say it is. Back in 2012 when we said wind was the “top source of new generation,” we were referring to installed capacity, not actual energy production (natural gas actually beat us by ten fold that year in new production). For the purposes of this article, though, we like how our production stacks up against China’s, so we’ll go with that. Trust us—we’re experts.
America is blessed with excellent wind resources, which are only economical with taxpayer subsidies, and
hard-working Americans high-powered lobbyists have made great strides in capturing and delivering more wind energy subsidies to American consumers multi-national wind conglomerates. That is why the average U.S. turbine is more productive – powering more homes than turbines in other countries – due to technological progress. We’ll never be as productive as natural gas, coal, hydroelectric, or nuclear power plants, but our wind turbines are slightly better than China’s, and that’s good enough for us.
A key, successful federal tax policy has encouraged companies to become this efficient, by only rewarding performance. And by performance we mean randomly generating electricity whenever the wind happens to blow, about 30 percent of the time on average, not when people actually need it. Unfortunately, Congress let the renewable energy Production Tax Credit expire once again at the end of 2014. By providing a long-term, stable policy, we can retain our number one status, keep well-paying jobs and invest in American communities. We realize that letting the PTC remain expired is a long-term and stable policy too, but please don’t do that. If the PTC goes away even AWEA won’t be able to fudge the numbers enough to make the wind industry look good.
There is bipartisan support for this tax incentive, as shown in the State of the Union address and the GOP rebuttal. Newly-elected Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), who delivered the rebuttal, may not agree on much with President Obama. One thing they do agree on is that investing in wind power makes sense and that the Production Tax Credit is the right policy to continue growing this abundant, homegrown resource. That’s not news to people who know the PTC was actually written by an Iowa Republican, but it sounds nice. The hundreds of millions of tax dollars that get diverted to Iowa every year through the PTC probably have no bearing here either. Please ignore all of that.
If the parties come together to pass this commonsense policy, the U.S. can write the next chapter on the historical rise of wind power as it transforms from an obscure technology in 1888 to a slightly less obscure technology over a hundred years later. Very exciting. According to the U.S. Department of Energy’s forthcoming Wind Vision report, American wind power can double wind by 2020 and double again by 2030 to provide 30 percent of U.S. energy. We can do all this and save consumers money simultaneously if policymakers keep supporting federal tax incentives to attract the necessary private investment. I am literally begging you to support my industry (which is really strong, I promise) with your tax dollars. Without handouts from Congress, we are pretty much helpless.
Kiernan is CEO of the American Wind Energy Association.
(The original piece is here for reference: http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/energy-environment/230248-the-state-of-the-wind-industry-is-strong)