AWEA is always glad to hear about support for renewable energy, like this statement today from candidate Donald Trump, in a press conference and a speech on energy policy to an oil industry group in Bismarck, North Dakota:
“So we can pursue all forms of energy. This includes renewable energies and the technologies of the future.”
Trump said that includes wind. However he then cited bad information that’s out-of-date, discredited, misleading, and just plain wrong, about the cost of wind, incentives to build turbines, and effects on eagles and birds.
Trump on the cost of wind energy: “Wind is very expensive, I mean wind is, without subsidy, wind doesn’t work.”
Actually: Wind is already cheaper than fossil fuels in wind-rich areas like Iowa and Texas, a statement Politifact checked and rated “True.” It’s increasingly cost-competitive not counting any incentives. The overall cost of wind-generated electricity has fallen 66 percent since 2009.
Trump on incentives: “You need massive subsidies for wind…The government should not pick winners and losers.”
Actually: All forms of energy have incentives, most of them permanent in the tax code. The only ones preparing to phase out their incentives are wind and the other renewable industries. The wind Production Tax Credit is set to phase out starting next year.
Trump on eagles: “…there are places maybe for wind. But if you go to various places in California, wind is killing all of the eagles.”
Actually: Publicly available data of all known eagle fatalities shows collisions with wind turbines at modern wind farms are responsible for less than five percent of all documented human-caused golden eagle deaths. Cases of bald eagles striking turbines are even rarer. The numbers of both kinds of eagle are increasing in the Western U.S.
Trump on birds: “Wind turbines kill far more than a million birds a year, far more…so wind is, you know, it’s a problem.”
Actually: Mr. Trump’s numbers are off by orders of magnitude. Wind power has among the lowest impacts on wildlife of any way to make electricity. Leading wildlife groups like the Audubon Society, the National Wildlife Federation, and the World Wildlife Fund support responsibility sited wind turbines. Wind energy is the low-cost solution to carbon pollution in particular which threatens all wildlife. Unlike all other human sources, the wind industry works to minimize and offset the limited impacts it has on individual birds, building on a legacy of care for birds and environment.
Trump ended by saying “Despite that, I am into all types of energy. And by the way, while we’re in North Dakota, I have to say that: I love the farmers.”
We encourage Mr. Trump to love the wind farmers, too. In most cases they’re the same people: 98 percent of wind turbines are erected on private land, leased from farmers and ranchers.
So the good news about wind energy is not just it’s good for consumers and the environment, it has also given the farmers in 40 states a valuable new cash crop, as it has in North Dakota.