Fact check: Chesser misinforms on wind incentives

Relying on a mentor with a checkered past (Robert Bryce, whose misstatement and errors we have often commented on here), Paul Chesser of the National Law and Policy Center yesterday attacked Duke Energy CEO James Rogers for investing in renewable energy projects that receive federal incentives.

The answer is simple. As we have stated here repeatedly, recent studies show that renewable sources of electricity actually receive far LESS federal support than did “conventional” sources during similar periods in their development. As one particularly informative study by DBL Investors states: “Current renewable energy subsidies do not constitute an over-subsidized outlier when compared to the historical norm for emerging sources of energy. For example: … the federal commitment to [oil and gas] was five times greater than the federal commitment to renewables during the first 15 years of each [subsidy’s] life, and it was more than 10 times greater for nuclear.”

It's hard to believe that the National Law and Policy Center would recommend a massive tax increase on an emerging energy industry, wind power, that has been extremely effective at keeping Americans at work and fostering a whole new American manufacturing sector. With the U.S. economic recovery still proceeding at a snail's pace, now is not the time to be boosting taxes on any industry that is growing and providing jobs.

Wind power's record in boosting economies, both rural and urban, is impressive.  Farmers and ranchers receive lease payments of up to $120,000 over 20 years for each wind turbine on their property.  At the same time, a growing number of Americans are working in the wind energy industry, especially in manufacturing.  Over 400 factories across 43 states now manufacture wind equipment, and 60% of a wind turbine’s value is produced here in the U.S., compared to 25% prior to 2005.
Wind energy’s cost has been reduced over 90% since 1980, driven by a continuing stream of game-changing technology advances.  Utilities are increasingly choosing to rely on wind, recognizing its ability to guarantee low electricity rates for the long term.  In fact, wind power has provided 35 percent of all new electric capacity in America over the past four years, more than coal and nuclear combined.
The federal wind Production Tax Credit, wind power's primary incentive has been allowed to expire periodically since its inception in 1992, creating a boom-bust cycle. When taxes on the industry have increased, wind energy installations have dropped as much as 93%. Extending the PTC will help wind power become increasingly cost-competitive and keep generating badly needed income and taxes for rural communities. Failure to extend it will roll back the progress America has made in diversifying our electricity generation portfolio with this clean, affordable, homegrown energy source.

More reading:

Fact check: Bryce errs on incentives, wind's popularity, October 13, 2011
Don't increase taxes on clean energy, September 26, 2011
New report gives best 'apples to apples' picture to date of federal support for all energy sources, September 23, 2011
Wind incentives: Leveling the playing field, August 17, 2011

Stay informed

Take Action

Subscribe to the American Clean Power blog and receive the latest renewable energy news, policy updates, and opportunities to get involved.