Tax Foundation off base on wind, solar subsidies

Recently the Tax Foundation, a Washington, DC-based organization, issued a report on U.S. energy subsidies with misleading information on incentives for wind and solar.

The report correctly points out that after more than 90 years, the highly profitable fossil fuel industries continue to receive billions in government support. In 2009, Management Information Services, Inc., found that more than $525 billion of taxpayer dollars have gone to oil, gas and coal since 1950 (MISI, 2008,

Taxpayers' money continues to be wasted on dirty energy handouts today. For example, the Government Accountability Office found in 2007 that fossil fuel-generated electricity received five times as much in tax incentives ($13.7 billion) as renewable electricity ($2.8 billion) between 2002 and 2007. (GAO, 2007

Dirty energy also carries large “hidden costs,” which amount to indirect subsidies. The National Academy of Sciences, for example, found coal’s hidden subsidy to amount to a cool $60 billion each year—without taking impacts from climate change into account.

While the Tax Foundation report said annual subsidies for renewable energy sources “like wind and solar” total $11 billion, the fact is, according to a recent report from the Congressional Research Service, that the majority of that amount actually went to biofuels.

Wind, solar and other renewable electricity incentives made up a small percent of energy tax incentives in 2007, while providing over 40% of all new electricity in the U.S., paying millions of dollars to farmers, ranchers and rural communities, and spurring the opening of hundreds of new manufacturing facilities.

(According to SourceWatch, the Koch Foundation, affiliated with the private oil & gas giant Koch Industries, is a funder of the Tax Foundation, and a representative of the Koch Foundation was Chairman of the Tax Foundation's Board as of March 2009.)

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.