Clean Power Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA)(

Published on May 5th, 2014 | by Sandy Dechert


Republican Senator Slams Fossil & Nuclear Energy Subsidies In Face Of Wind Energy Tax Credit Attacks

May 5th, 2014 by  


Several weeks ago Peter Sinclair of Climate Denial Crock of the Week took up the latest news from the seesawing $14 billion wind industry in the US, which is the world’s second-largest buyer of turbines. Sinclair publicized a short video of Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA, above) revealing an “intellectually dishonest” accusation put forward by Sen. Patrick J. Toomey, a fellow Republican senator from Pennsylvania, at a Senate Finance Committee hearing on April 3rd.

Despite being known as a longtime fiscal conservative, Grassley—an early supporter of solar energy and six-termer beloved to his state—strongly favors reinstating the renewable energy Production Tax Credit through 2015 in the absence of comprehensive energy tax reform. (Tina Casey and others here on CleanTechnica covered the last wind credit extension drama numerous times.)

Grassley placed 2014 wind energy tax credits firmly in context for the Finance Committee by recalling the facts about the government’s longstanding incentives for oil and gas and nuclear power. Grassley’s argument effectively squashed Toomey’s move to “eliminate crony capitalist energy tax credits”—an expression that to this writer much more aptly describes the huge tax breaks and subsidies awarded to Big Fossil Energy for over a century, and to nuclear since the 1960s.

Toomey was roundly defeated in the finance committee vote, and the Expiring Provisions Improvement Reform and Efficiency (EXPIRE) Act of 2014 (a two-year PTC extension) won approval. It will now move to the Senate floor for consideration. However, the incident serves to remind us that funding for wind power continues to “blow in the wind” (pardon the expression) in the US.

During the past month, Fox News and Bloomberg have both characterized the industry as unpopular, “reeling,” and “on a respirator.” Bloomberg blames the increase in shale gas production and the low cost of that product for slowing wind. Fox cites a report from Capital Alpha Partners that states that the appetite on Capitol Hill for continuing the PTC is declining and that fiscal hawks and competing energy interests say wind is mature enough to take off “the federal training wheels.”

Investopedia says that, like shale gas, wind has shattered records in 2013. “Installed wind energy capacity continues to hit new highs across the US,” echoing similar gains around the globe, says Society of American Business Editors and Writers investment journalist and analyst Aaron Levitt. AWEA estimates that nearly 60,000 MW of new wind projects could be set up in the US over the next few years, Levitt says—basically double the current US capacity.

In its Wind Industry Annual Market Report Year Ending 2013, released April 10 (and characterized by one reporter as “difficult reading”), the American Wind Energy Association details a historic 12,000 MW of new wind projects under construction at year’s end 2013, “record construction numbers, more business for American factories, and more deployment of wind energy that has become a new cash crop for our farmers and ranchers.”

AWEA also notes:

Operational wind energy projects, combined with the projects under construction, will avoid 115 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually—more than 5% of U.S. power sector emissions – while avoiding the consumption of over 36 billion gallons of water each year, because wind turbines use virtually no water in operation.

AWEA takes the position that the industry relies on a PTC revival to maintain “a stable business environment for further investment.”

The Freedonia Group, Inc., a Cleveland market research firm, reported at the end of March that US demand for wind turbine systems is forecast to reach $18.9 billion in 2018, a nearly ninefold increase over 2013 levels. In January, wind produced almost 5% of America’s electricity. Over 40% if the nation (21 states) is developing sites, with Texas (8 GW), Iowa (1+ GW), Kansas (700 MW), North Dakota (600 MW), and Oklahoma (nearly 500 MW) leading. Despite the current lack of a federal PTC, Freedonia still expects wind to rebound significantly due to other incentives, including feed-in tariff payments, grants from the Department of Energy, and the need to meet state-level renewable standards.

And on May 1, James Quilter, associate editor of Windpower Monthly, reminded us:

[F]or 2014, the Global Wind Energy Council… predicted a 34% surge in installations to 43GW by year end. Much of this is likely to come from the US, with Brazil and China also supplying a large proportion.

Quilter points to politics at different levels in each market and the changing structure of the industry from pure wind players toward turbine-making conglomerates like GE and Siemens as determinants of the future for wind energy.

The Senate took a recess for Easter from April 14 to April 28 and just returned on Monday. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has said he wants the full Senate to vote soon on the wind energy tax credit and other energy incentives. Ron Wyden (D-OR), chair of the Senate Finance Committee, concurs. And the largest wind energy conference in North America, WINDPOWER 2014, is coming up on Tuesday. Siemens calls it “the nexus of wind energy professionals who converge to generate actionable ideas for expanding the wind energy industry through technology and collaboration.” So look for more news on wind energy in the near future.

2013 AWEA conference (AWEA, from flickr)

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About the Author

covers environmental, health, renewable and conventional energy, and climate change news. She's currently on the climate beat for Important Media, having attended last year's COP20 in Lima Peru. Sandy has also worked for groundbreaking environmental consultants and a Fortune 100 health care firm. She writes for several weblogs and attributes her modest success to an "indelible habit of poking around to satisfy my own curiosity."

  • Penny Gray

    We can fill every inch of our air space with industrial wind turbines but until we have a way to store the energy, the power they produce is redundant.

    • Bob_Wallace

      No, the power produced by wind turbines is replacing power from industrial fossil fuel plants.

      Fossil fuel plants are killing us. Don’t you think that getting rid of things that are killing us is a good idea?

      • Penny Gray

        I’d love to see a list of all the fossil powered generators that have been shut down because of industrial wind. The problem is, wind needs back-up 24/7 due to the fact that it’s unpredictable, so in effect two power plants are now running to provide what the original power plant provided. Not smart. Faith based energy policies should be replaced by science based solutions. And I’m not anti-renewables, I’ve lived off grid for close to 30 years. I’m just being realistic. Solar and wind won’t do it for us until we have storage capacity. Hydro and nuclear are to two green energy sources that can actually provide energy 24/7 to the grid. We should be looking into thorium reactors. They’re building them in China. We would have gone down that path a long time ago except we wanted to build nuclear bombs.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Penny, we got more than 4% of our electricity from wind in 2013. If wind hadn’t contributed 167,665,000,000 kWh of electricity to the grid we would have burned fossil fuels to produce that power.

          Wind does not need constant backup. However large thermal (coal and nuclear) plants do. Learn how the grid works before you try to tell us stuff.

          We can convert 30+% of our grid to wind and solar before we need to add storage. In fact, the number may be quite a bit higher as we learn more about how to best integrate renewables. (BTW, in order to use nuclear we added 21 GW of storage to our grids.)

          If China gets a thorium reactor to work then we can figure out the cost and consider building thorium. But it’s highly unlikely people would want to see their electricity bills increased by building more nuclear of any kind.

          • Penny Gray

            Bob, with all due respect, I think it’s you who needs to do the homework. At present, wind must be used when it’s generated because there is no storage available. Hence the reason why it’s being dumped (at great cost) if the wind is blowing when energy demand is low. Storage is critical. Fossil fuel plants cannot be shut down when the wind is blowing because it takes to long to ramp them back up, so they idle, and like vehicles, they burn dirtier when they’re not working at capacity. This isn’t reducing CO2, it’s increasing it. Here in Maine the wind projects are performing poorly because wind quality in Maine is poor to fair. But these projects aren’t about producing electricity, they’re about reaping the huge tax write offs and the tax payer subsidies and selling carbon credits to coal plants out west so they can continue polluting our air. The tax write offs are why oil companies (among others) are big into industrial wind right now. Renewables need to be used at their source. Erecting these big turbines on top of mountains hundreds of miles away from the cities is foolish. The line loss alone is reason enough not to site them remotely. Here in Maine the wind projects are the power companies biggest customers due to the power required by the turbines when the wind isn’t blowing, which is 75% of the time. These wind projects fragment critical wildlife habitat and destroy hundreds of acres of forest for transmission lines, pad clearings, roads and so forth. Raptor and migratory bird and bat kills, herbicide spraying, erosion…none of this is “green”. You want to see green, look to the trees. They feed on CO2 and give us back oxygen, prevent erosion, cool with their shade, provide us with rain. We should focus on protecting and enhancing the health of our forests.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Peter, we have 150 pump-up hydro storage systems in the US, a total of 20 GW. Plus a GW of CAES. It’s not the case that we have no storage.

            Perhaps you have some data on how much wind is being dumped? I’m under the impression that it’s not all that much.

            Natural gas plants ramp up and down quite quickly. A gas turbine can go from full off to full on in 10 to 15 minutes. Grid operators know is advance when the wind is going to slow down, it’s not like they have to scramble because all the wind disappears at once.

            The wind doesn’t blow for 5 minutes, stop for 10, blow for 7, stop for 3, ….

            Go spend some time in the wind or talk to a sailor. Winds almost always start slow and build, then drop off gradually. Then when you link multiple wind farms to a grid you decrease the rate of change.


            “This isn’t reducing CO2, it’s increasing it.”

            Let’s look at some real data…


            It has become an article of popular faith that building wind farms also involves constructing fossil-fuelled power stations for back‑up when the weather is calm. As a result, some opponents go on to say, wind turbines do little or nothing to cut carbon dioxide emissions.

            Now the National Grid has studied what actually happens in practice, with explosive, if surprising, results. Between April 2011 and September 2012 – its head of energy strategy, Richard Smith, told the Hay Festival – wind produced some 23,700 gigawatt hours (GWh) of power. Only 22GWh of power from fossil fuels was needed to fill the gaps when the wind didn’t blow. That’s less than a thousandth of the turbines’ output – and, as it happens, less than a tenth of what was needed to back up conventional power stations.

            It proved to be much the same with emissions. Wind saved nearly 11 million tonnes of carbon dioxide over that 18 months; standby burning of fossil fuels only reduced this by 8,800 tonnes, or 0.081 per cent.

            Not surprisingly, given these figures, no new fossil‑fuel power station has been built to provide back‑up for wind farms, and none is in prospect.”


          • Bob_Wallace


            “The tax write offs are why oil companies (among others) are big into industrial wind right now.”

            What oil companies are big into industrial wind? Some data please?

            ” Erecting these big turbines on top of mountains hundreds of miles away from the cities is foolish.”

            Do you have a plan to transport wind from the windy places to cities so that we can put the turbines close to cities? Perhaps some great big pipes?

            ” The line loss alone is reason enough not to site them remotely.”

            The line loss is minimal. Transmission losses on the grid run in the 3% range.

            Obviously there are a bunch of things you don’t know. Perhaps you’d be better off asking questions rather than making statements of fact when you don’t have the facts at hand.

            “These wind projects fragment critical wildlife habitat and destroy hundreds of acres of forest for transmission lines, pad clearings, roads and so forth. Raptor and migratory bird and bat kills, herbicide spraying, erosion…none of this is “green”.”

            Fragment critical wildlife habitat. Prove it. Give us some data. Show us that there are now orphan populations of animals that are cut off from other members of their species by wind turbines.

            Hundreds of acres of forests. Perhaps. Are there thousands of wind turbines in Maine? A wind turbine uses about 1/4 acres for footing, access road, transmission, and ancillary buildings. Four turbines per acre, 400 per 100 acres. How many “hundreds” are we talking about? And how large is Maine?

            Bird kills per GWh with wind is lower than for coal and nuclear. You’d rather use coal and nuclear and kill more birds?

            Sounds to me like you’ve been reading anti-wind BS sites.

            BTW, Penny, have you considered what climate change will do to the forests you love if we don’t get things under control? Why don’t you check Colorado’s forests and get a preview….

          • Otis11

            I just wanted to take a second to thank you for that incredibly thorough rebuttal – it was a great refresher.

          • Penny Gray

            Iberdrola is actually an oil company (Spain, Qatar). Statoil. Exxon…the info is out there. You just have to dig a little. If people were truly concerned about climate change they’d be persuing solutions that work.

          • eliboston

            Bob you talk evidence based science, Penny is not.

            I am willing to bet that in 10 years oil, coal, natural gas, and uranium will become valueless commodities. Flint was valuable during the stone age. Not so much today.

          • Peter Gray

            ” Here in Maine the wind projects are the power companies biggest
            customers due to the power required by the turbines when the wind isn’t
            blowing, which is 75% of the time.”

            Bob caught most of the other howlers, but this one is a sure tip-off that Penny’s education comes from wingnut anti-wind sites, unless she’s just making up numbers or cobbling together random disparate factoids.

            What next? All those bogus health effects caused by turbine “infrasound”?

          • Bob_Wallace

            She telegraphs it with “industrial”. As if coal and nuclear were cottage industries and natural gas was knitted by little old ladies sitting under apple trees.

          • Peter Gray

            Yup, you nailed it.
            Along with stunning revelations about how the wind doesn’t blow all the time (but when it blows too much, getting rid of the energy is somehow costly), the thorium reference also points to a classic case of Crank Magnetism. I’ve had to refer to that sadly often lately:

          • Penny Gray

            Maine’s wind projects are coming in between 11 to 25% efficient, these figures are provided by FERC and don’t include energy drawn off the grid. Mountain wind is fickle. Gusty. I live on a mountain so I know about how the wind blows in the mountains. It turns on and off suddenly. Gear boxes on the turbines don’t like gusty wind. Gusty wind is unpredicatable. Maybe the wind is predictable in kansas but is sure ain’t in Maine.

          • Bob_Wallace

            New blades are being installed which are increasing CF by 10% or so.

            Lidar systems “look ahead” and see gusts coming so that turbines can minimize the shock loading.

            Suck it up Penny. You Maniacs need to do your part to combat global warming.

          • Penny Gray

            The term is “climate change”, Bob. I only wish it would warm up a little here so I could plant the garden.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Might I suggest Eliot Coleman’s excellent book “Four-Season Harvesting”? Those of us who live where spring comes late and winter turns up early can adapt. Our gardening problems are first world problems.

            A warmer planet would be nice for my garden, too. But it will play hell for hundreds of millions who live in places that are now too hot and too dry to comfortably support them.

            I can keep growing my tomatoes under cover for a couple more weeks and covering my strawberries when frost is threatening, but other people are watching their crops fail and cattle die.

          • Bob_Wallace

            BTW, Penny. We’re warming the planet and that is causing all sorts of climate change. Warming is even causing incidents of colder than usual weather as the Polar Vortex breaks down and the jet stream pattern is altered.

            Neither term is “the correct one”, correct choice depends on context.

          • eliboston


            I looked up at random one of the beautiful wind turbine projects on the Maine mountaintops:

            Record Hill Wind is a 50.6 MW wind project in Roxbury, consisting of 22 turbines arrayed along a four mile long north-south ridgeline connecting Record Hill, Flathead Mountain (44°39′40″N 70°37′41″W), and Partridge Peak. The electrical output of the project is estimated to be approximately 160 million kW·h (18 MW·yr) per year.[9] from

            Now lets do the math:

            Efficiency or in engineering terminology “capacity” is the number of hours the turbine would need to generate electricity at 100% to achieve the annual that varies hourly from zero when there is no wind to 100% when wind is exactly at the right speed to achieve 100% of its capacity, which is the design wind velocity.

            If we take the 50.6 MW example above and assume a typical design wind velocity 13 meters per second to achieve 100% capacity it would mean that any hours of the 8760 hours in a year that the wind blows faster than 13 m/s we would get 100% of the 50.6 generation (except during periods that the wind exceeded 60 m/s that typically they would shut down the turbines.) Less wind speed than 13 m/s would mean that only a % of the 50.6 MW would be generated and for wind speeds less than 3 m/s would be zero KWh.

            In our example the 50.6 MW generate 160 million kW·h per year. Capacity is then:

            160,000,000 KWh / 50.6 MW X 8,760 hours =
            36% which is first class wind and allows for the kind of great economics that wind power has been achieving and the reason it has globally and in the US has exploded in installations. By the way there are natural gas turbines at less than 1% efficiency in areas like New Mexico that they have installed tons of wind power because they are not needed.

            36% efficiency is a hell of lot better than the 11 % to 25% Penny is claiming.

            Was this an error or an attempt at blatant fabrication? Whatever.

          • Penny Gray

            Your figures clearly didn’t come from FERC, which posts the actual production output. Computer modeling isn’t necessary when the project is actually up and running. Then you get the advantage of actual figues, which include the down time from mechanical problems.

          • eliboston

            Penny Gray this is totally laughable your 10% to 25% numbers did not come from FERC they came from where all your non-cited nonsense you have been posting about projects in Maine with no name or location.

            10% – 25% capacity due to downtime you have to be talking about thirty year old machines, the little ones that also turned fast and few birds run into them. But that was then in the 1980’s. Now each turbine in Maine generates as much electricity as 150 of the old ones and are totally safe from birds.

            The gigantic turbines that leap like beautiful ballerinas several hundred feet in the air are by far the most reliable electricity generators on the planet with less than 2% downtime for maintenance and almost never break. They are much much more reliable than oil, coal, nuclear, and natural gas are down at least 20% of the time for maintenance and sometimes MUCH more than that. Wind turbines have sensors that report remotely tiny trace of iron micro filaments in the oil so parts are changed before they break down. And on top of that dirty and dangerous electricity power plants often have unexpected breakdowns. No so with wind turbines.

            I was visiting the turbines powered from burning putrid coal at Brayton Point in Massachusetts that went down with no warning and a day later they were still trying to figure out the problem.

            Of course if you are not making up the numbers you may be citing information about wind turbines from the distant past that were so short that wind speeds may have been that slow. But today’s turbines catch much faster wind because they are so much taller!!

            Are you confused or are you purposefully deceitful?

          • Penny Gray

            This is an excellent site, an overview that is easy to understand. It discusses capacity factors as well and if you scroll down you’ll find Maine’s figures there.


          • eliboston

            Penny the Energy Collective has worthless information and furthermore NOWHERE in the site does it mention that Maine’s wind turbines have 10% to 25% capacity. So where is the beef? This is typical bait and switch misinformation and you should be ashamed about because you initially mentioned FERC as your source and then you switched to the Energy Collective which has nothing to do with FERC.

            While you are trying to stop clean and beautiful wind power with misinformation, our children’s lungs are damaged for life from SO2 and Ozone in the putrid air pollution from fossil fuels power plants. This pollution is also devastating to wildlife including birds. Google “mercury” “loons” and “extinctions” to see what the the Cornell ornithology lab has to say about dirty electricity. Or the impact of acid rain on thrushes and other songbirds that kills smails critical for laying hard eggs. Soft eggs do not hatch. Big turbines are not only reducing medical costs for humans but are protectors to wildlife. Enough with your lies and the nonsenses about birds killed from the thirty year old small turbines that span so fast birds good not see them. They do not make them anymore and furthermore at the Altamont Pass the Center for Biodiversity that complained about small turbines killing birds now supports replacing hundreds of small turbines with few gigantic that would protect the birds while generating much more electricity.

            Big turbines can easily be seen during the day and even during the night birds sense them and change direction 100 to 200 feet away according to multiyear radar studies in Denmark that traced millions of birds (even moths) flying safely through wind turbine parks.

            So who says 10%-25% capacity for Maine’s wind turbines?

            I am still not sure if you are confused or purposely distorting.

          • Penny Gray

            I’m sorry Eli Boston, I didn’t realize you didn’t understand capacity factor figures but just go on Maine’s site for FERC and you’ll get the quarterly production figures, probably easier to understand. You do realize, when you speak of your children’s lungs, that these wind farms sell carbon credits to coal burning factilities so they can continue to pollute our air? We in Maine are in the tailpipe, so to speak, so we get slammed by midwestern pollution. The ideal solution is to install scrubbers on the stacks of ALL coal burning power plants world wide, the problem is the expense. Not only do these plants produce CO2 but coal burning plants emit heavy metals which poison us. Mercury and so forth. Very bad stuff. Natural gas is helping enormously to idle coal plants here in the US but other countries are still burning coal full tilt and we’re selling it to them and will continue to sell it to them until the last chunk of coal has been mined. That’s the power of money. It can be as dirty as the coal.

          • eliboston

            Thanks Penny for verifying you are not confused but you are simply a servant of the dark force as someone else pointed out. By proposing scrubbers as an ideal solution I now know you are a pro-dirty coal shill.

            Scrubbers do not remove mercury and do not remove all the SO2 that causes acid rain but SO2 also causes acid breathing that rapes our children’s lungs.

            You know that beautiful wind turbines are not just majestic wind sculptures but they are actually the only true scrubbers scrubbing the sky clean from fossil fuel poisons.

            Natural Gas is also another dirty fossil fuel that while it emits less SO2 than filthy coal when burned to make electricity natural gas contributes a lot more ozone pollution or smog during drilling than is emitted when mining coal. Ozone pollution causes lifelong asthma to our children. But you do not care about their little lungs because you are serving the dark force as noted previously.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Perhaps you could help us out here, Penny.

            I’ve managed to find CF numbers for 2011 for Maine wind farms. I don’t know if all the “farms” are included or not. Perhaps you have a better, and more current, list.

            MA Military Reservation Wind Project 8%

            Who knows what this is? Is it run on weekends by the National Guard or something?

            Town of Falmouth WWTP CF 18%

            It’s a little hard to call this a wind farm. It seems to be 2 or 3 turbines which were installed a few years ago and aren’t likely run at normal wind farms levels.

            These turbines are currently under attack by some whackos that are blaming the turbines for health problems. They’ve worried themselves sick. ;o)

            Princeton Wind Farm 19%

            Apparently two turbines set up by a local government. Again, not a wind farm. Hard to say anything about “industrial” wind as the nut cases like to call it.

            Hull Wind II 26%

            Best I can tell this is a single 1.5 MW turbine.

            Notus Wind 1 32%

            A single 1.6 MW turbine.

            There are no wind farms in Maine. There are a handful of turbines but we have no idea how well maintained and operated they are. Being single turbines it’s very unlikely that they have adequate wind forecasting ability nor state of the art management. 19% is on the low side. 26% isn’t terrible for a standalone. 32% isn’t bad for a municipal turbine.

            Looks like it’s time for Maine to get serious and build some real wind capacity. Offshore, for example. Away from the bunched bloomer crowd.

          • Penny Gray

            Bob, those wind farms are all in Massachusetts. Maine separated from Massachusetts quite a while ago. You need to look up Kibby (TransCanada) Mars Hill, Stetson 1 and 2, Record HIll, Spruce Mountain, those are in Maine. Maine is north of Massachusetts and is bordered on the west by New Hampshire, on the north by Canada and on the east by the Atlantic Ocean.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Sorry, I get those little NE colonies mixed up. The county I live in is larger than some of those places. ;o)

            Maine = ME. Have I got it right this time? Here’s what I find for ME wind farms – 2011 CF.

            Kibby Wind Power Project 24%

            Stetson Wind II 27%

            Fox Island Wind LLC 28%

            Beaver Ridge Wind 30%

            Stetson Wind I 31%

            Mars Hill Wind Farm Project 35%


            Now, that’s nothing like your claim that “Maine’s wind projects are coming in between 11 to 25% efficient”.

            Could you link to your data source? (Data, not someone else’s comment.)

          • Bob_Wallace

            And here’s the 2012 CF numbers from the same source…

            Mars Hill Wind Farm Project 36.2
            Kibby Wind Power Project 22.8
            Stetson Wind I 21.5
            Rollins Wind Project 24.1
            Stetson Wind II 19.0
            Record Hill Wind 24.8

            Two years of data and I’m not seeing your claim supported.

        • eliboston

          They do not tear down unused PowerPlants, they mothball them.

          Some PowerPlants are used less than 1% in a year! This amounts to many many tons of dirty air that is kept out of our children’s tender lungs.

    • Calamity_Jean

      That’s almost completely false. Wind power could replace half or more of fossil fuel power with little or no storage. Read some more CleanTechnica and elsewhere to learn more.

    • eliboston

      NOT TRUE! that is a lie propagated by the evil Koch brothers.

      1. In Denmark they found managing the grid displacing dirty-fuel electricity was less than a tiny fraction of a penny per KWh. Integrating wind in the grid is neither a technological problem or economic problem resulting in clean air.

      2. Nuclear electricity pumps water from lower reservoirs to higher elevations reservoirs to store excess energy for later use converted back into hydroelectricity when demand exceeds capacity. Wind electricity can use the existing installations for nuclear to store wind electricity through the grid. You may know electrons have no idea if an ugly and dangerous nuclear reactor or a beautiful wind turbine put it on the grid. Electrons do the same work whether they come from a clean or dirty sources.

      3. In fact a Canadian study in New Brunswick demonstrated that there is an overcapacity of existing hydroelectricity that can be saved to be used only when there is no wind to easily achieve 100% hydro-wind system thank you very much! By the way check out Costa Rica (yes you read Costa Rica!), which is close to achieve freedom from dirty and dangerous electricity by depending on wind and water electricity.

      100% clean electricity will result in gargantuan savings from external indirect costs of dirty electricity: such as human and wildlife morbidity (disease avoidance) and mortality (premature death), car finish damage from acid rain, building roof and wall decay from pollution, increased military spending to protect foreign sources of energy vital to our economy, and the list goes on.

      So let the market forces smash the back of coal, oil, and natural gas by cleaning up the accounting that currently forces us to subsidize them with our children’s health.

  • Banned by Bob

    We’ve never had so many energy choices as we do today. Therefore, there should be no need for any subsidies of any form. Time to clean all of this up. There’s too much temptation for political greed and misconduct associated with these.

    • Penny Gray

      Excellent point. Let the free market decide our energy policies, not political cronyism.

      • Bob_Wallace

        Great, Penny. Get in touch with your senators and congress member and demand they eliminate subsidies for fossil fuels and demand that fossil fuels pay for their external costs.

        Once you get that done then the wind and solar industries will be very willing to give up their subsidies.

        That’s fair, don’t you think?

        • eliboston

          The external costs for fossil fuels are MUCH bigger than the meager subsidies for wind power.

          The cost of electricity is not only what we pay utilities but also what we pay doctors, pharmacies, and hospitals, for asthma and bronchitis caused by the dirty air resulting from burning fossil fuels.

          A conservative price tag for Cape Wind, based on a Harvard School of Public Health study that the Army Corps of Engineers included in their Environmental Impact Statement, was $53,000,000 a year health savings will result from the averted pollution of about 1,500,000 MWh that Cape Wind will generate per year. By the way a lot of Cape Wind’s electricity will be generated with the breezes of the hot summer afternoon hours when pollution from electricity is at its highest. When ozone alerts cause asthma hospitalizations and deaths.

          Do the math and you will see if the health savings were paid by the dirty electricity generators we would need no subsidies for wind. So your point about external costs is right on about breathgivingly beautiful wind power.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Excellent info.

            Got a good link?

          • eliboston

            I could not find the original EIS of the Army Corps of Engineers on line that detailed how they came up with their numbers but I found the following at:

            “Cape Wind could have an annual cumulative beneficial effect on public health estimated at approximately $53 million dollars resulting from reduced power plant pollution.”

            By the way changing markets have decreased use of oil which was the fuel most displaced by the integration of wind when the original EIS by the USACE came out. Now wind will displace natural gas whose harmful pollution is significant but less than oil air pollution. New estimates say the savings may now be $7,000,000 to $20,000,000 per year, which still is a lot or asthma attacks and bronchitis prevented.

            Of course when wind power starts replacing coal plants the health savings will be much more dramatic. This will happen when we build a dozen Cape Wind size projects.

            External cost however are not limited to health savings.

            The huge waste of water resource in making electricity with fossil fuels or nuclear has economic value especially in areas hit with drought. Hot water used by power plants have reduced valuable fish population by as much as 80%.

            Also acid rain while reduced by 50% to 80% it still damages agriculture, forestry, buildings both roofs and walls, and car finishes even today. These numbers are not as easy to measure but the damages and costs are real. Mercury is a neurotoxin that is emitted during electricity generation that harms fetus development and young children but is very hard to put a dollar value.

            I hope this helps.

        • Penny Gray

          That would be ideal, actually. Industrial wind should be on the same playing field, same subsidies or no subsidies at all. Wind is currently subsidized much higher than any other fuel. That’s why so many oil companies and banking houses have their noses in the wind subsidy trough. There’s no better tax write-off going right now than industrial wind.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Actually, Penny, wind has no subsidy as of January 1, 2014.

            The massive subsidies and external costs for fossil fuels and nuclear continue unabated.

            But congratulations for standing up for the dark force.

          • Penny Gray

            Bob, if you’re talking about the tax credits, that’s only part of the subsidy equation. As for the dark force, this is a beautiful planet. We all want to protect it and I’d like to think we’re all moving toward that goal. If that makes me a dark force, then paint me black. I have to laugh because I’m in the middle of installing a replacement battery bank for my off grid home and I’m taking a break from lugging the six volt Trojans upstairs one at a time. I should say, one step at a time, is anything heavier than lead? so right now I even FEEL like a dark force as well as a dark horse. But I’m doing the best I can.

          • Bob_Wallace

            What tax credits for wind, Penny?

            Did Congress create some today?

      • Peter Gray

        Except in trivial cases involving small handfuls of participants, free markets don’t solve the problem of externalities. Ever. By definition.

        I’m with you on cronyism, but before pushing free markets as the solution to everything, please take the time to educate yourself on the basics.

  • Matt

    (R-IA) IA stands for Iowa which now has 1GW+ of wind. So he like many R’s at state and local levels see a big benefit for his votes. And yes it is dishonest and misleading at best to vote to keep oil/gas/coal “give aways” and then vote to raise taxes on wind. Any tax break, or closed loop hole to a friend of the republicans is call a tax hike!

  • Chris Herz

    What happened? Did Koch Industries forget to send Mr Grassley his check?

  • Ross

    Maybe a little early to declare victory, but the tide, whatever causes those, is turning.

  • JamesWimberley

    The way to think of the wind and solar PTCs is as second-best proxies for the carbon taxes that coal and gas ought to pay but don’t. A “comprehensive energy tax reform” that simply abolished all energy tax breaks would not create a level playing field. It would however be enough to ensure the triumph of renewable energy.

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