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Taxpayer Alert: Big Wind is pressing Congress for yet another bailout

By Mary Kay Barton 
web posted December 1, 2014

Taxpayers beware! While you were sleeping, enjoying your family and eating turkey, Congress has been busy.

Congressional Republicans are negotiating with Senate Democrats to extend the infamous wind energy Production Tax Credit through to 2017, after which it will supposedly be phased out, just as was supposed to happen in the past. This sneaky, dark-of-night “lame duck” session tactic should be flatly rejected.

While you’ve been busy just trying to make ends meet, wondering why the cost of everything is going up, and agonizing over how your children and grandchildren will ever pay the mounting $18 trillion dollar national debt – the wind industry lobbyists’ group, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), just sent Congress a letter seeking to extend the federal, taxpayer-funded wind Production Tax Credit (PTC).

The list of signers to AWEA’s letter include rent-seeking industries and “green” groups who’ve all benefitted by tapping into taxpayers’ wallets via the Big Wind PTC (aka: Pork-To-Cronies). It certainly isn’t hard to figure out why these corporations pay many millions of dollars to hire lobbyists and run national TV advertising campaigns geared at convincing crony-politicians to vote to continue these TAXES and higher energy prices on American citizens.

 AWEA’a letter is typical of wind industry propaganda. It makes specious claims about creating jobs and reducing pollution, without providing a shred of evidence to prove any of their claims. AWEA apparently hopes Congressional officials are “too stupid” to understand what energy-literate citizens nationwide know:  Industrial wind can NEVER provide reliable power. It raises electricity costs, even after subsidies are factored in. It kills more jobs than it creates. It defiles wildlife habitats and kills eagles, hawks, other birds and bats – with no penalties to Big Wind operators.

Here’s the reality: After 22+ years of picking U.S. taxpayers’ and ratepayers’ pockets, industrial wind has NOT significantly reduced carbon dioxide emissions. It has not replaced any conventional power plants, anywhere. However, the $Trillions spent on these “green” boondoggles to date have significantly added to the $18+ trillion dollar debt that our children and grandchildren will have to bear.

 AWEA’s own statements from years and decades past can be used against them. To cite just one example, 31 years ago, a study coauthored by the AWEA stated:

The private sector can be expected to develop improved solar and wind technologies which will begin to become competitive and self-supporting on a national level by the end of the decade if assisted by tax credits and augmented by federally sponsored R&D.

[American Wind Energy Association, et al.Quoted in Renewable Energy Industry, Joint Hearing before the Subcommittees of the Committee on Energy and Commerce et al., House of Representatives, 98th Cong., 1st sess. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1983, p. 52.]

In other words, the PTC should have ended 20 years ago, because wind energy would be self-sustaining by then. It wasn’t. It still isn’t. It never will be. We need to pull the PTC plug now!

Here are some details about the bill that is currently being negotiated during the lame duck session –before the newly elected, Republican majority Senate takes office and can do much about it.

In 2016, wind developers would be eligible for 80% percent of the PTC's value. They could also claim 60% of its value through the first nine months of 2017, after which it would supposedly expire.

The proposed congressional deal also seems to continue basing PTC eligibility on when project construction project begins. That opens huge doors for abuse.

The last time Congress extended the PTC, as part of its “fiscal cliff” deal in 2013, it said “eligibility” for taxpayer largesse covered projects “under construction,” rather than requiring that they be “placed in service” by a certain date. In practice, this means just a shovelful of dirt has to be moved by that date.

Remember too that the Production Tax Credit supposedly expired last year. But this clever language has allowed construction and expansion in the meantime. Meanwhile, Lois Lerner’s Internal Revenue Service has helpfully said projects that were started or “safe-harbored” prior to the PTC’s most recent pseudo-expiration can claim tax credits if they are in service by 2015. And then they can claim the $23-per-MWh credit for ten more years!

What a wonderful holiday gift for Big Wind and its political sponsors – at your expense.

Our government should not be in the business of picking and choosing the winners and losers in the energy marketplace – while assaulting and harming the very citizens they are forcing to pay for this “green” energy scam. It’s time for government to get out of the way and let the markets work! 

The best solutions will rise to the top of their own accord because they will provide modern power at the best prices – thereby maintaining the reliable, affordable power that has made America great.

Citizens nation-wide have awakened to this massive “green” energy scam. Many have sent letters to Congress like the one below. You can join the fight by contacting your representatives and urging them to do the right thing: Protect American consumers, taxpayers and ratepayers. END Wind Welfare (#EndWindWelfare)!

Here’s a sample letter that you can use or modify: 

Citizens’ Plea - DO NOT RESUSCITATE the Wind Energy Production Tax Credit

Dear Senator or Congressman:

We, the undersigned, join millions of U.S. taxpayers & ratepayers nationwide in urging you and your colleagues to eliminate the 22-year old wind Production Tax Credit (PTC).

You should know by now that wind energy is a net technical, economic and environmental loser.  Why would we want to waste more $Billions of taxpayers’ hard-earned money on a net loser? 

The addition of industrial wind in the United States has not reduced our need to maintain and build reliable generation, nor does it add materially to our job force. Because wind energy is so diffuse, unreliable and volatile, it can never supply the reliable, affordable electric generating capacity that our modern society demands. Instead, it creates unprecedented industrial sprawl that is responsible for massive habitat fragmentation, species decline, and the wonton slaughter of countless birds and bats.

By forcing gigantic wind turbines on entire communities where only a few benefit, it has devastated civility in targeted townships, and destroyed rural heritage as landscapes are forever changed.

Renewable energy tax policy has also fostered a generation of developers bent on sticking turbines on every free acre that has transmission access, no matter who is in the way. It is simply unconscionable that, to date, no U.S. elected official has called for appropriate health studies to protect the health, safety and welfare of U.S. citizens who are suffering as a result of living within the sprawling footprints of industrial wind factories. As a result, it’s no surprise that more than twelve active lawsuits are pending against wind projects in as many states, with many more sure to follow.

The issues surrounding wind power expansion also impact energy prices and disrupt otherwise functional markets. The PTC provides project owners with a significant out-of-market revenue source, which invokes predatory pricing practices that unfairly harm the economics of reliable generators. In fact, at 2.3¢/kWh, the subsidy's pre-tax value (3.5¢/kWh) equals, or exceeds the wholesale price of power in much of the country.

There is no justification for a government program that manipulates and harms otherwise healthy, competitive businesses for the benefit of a few.

After 22-years of tax credits, the business of Big Wind is not about energy production. It is about tax avoidance and tax subsidies. Warren Buffet recently reminded us that wind investment makes no sense without the handouts from taxpayers. Wind energy will never be competitive with the price of the fuel it saves, and would not exist but for the PTC.

After more than two decades, the wind industry is well situated to stand on its own without the PTC. It is unreasonable to continue to force taxpayers to support it. Your constituents know it, and you should, too.  

This is why we respectfully request that Congress resist any temptation to reinstate the expired PTC or associated investment tax credit (ITC).

Respectfully submitted,

[signed] ESR

Mary Kay Barton is a retired health educator, New York State small business owner, Cornell-certified Master Gardener, and is a tireless advocate for scientifically sound, affordable, and reliable electricity for all Americans.

 

 

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