Pyle: Green energy handouts hurt Virginia

February 4, 2014 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

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In this photo taken Tuesday Jan. 28, 2014 wind turbines are seen as the sun sets in Rumney, N.H. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

Posted: Tuesday, February 4, 2014 2:30 am

Pyle: Green energy handouts hurt Virginia

Thomas Pyle | Pyle is the president of the American Energy Alliance.

What’s the real cost of wind power?

For Virginians, it’s more than $72 million in handouts to big business, according to estimates by the Institute for Energy Research, which advocates for conventional energy sources.

They paid that much money in 2012 so that multi-national corporations could experiment with wind power on the taxpayer dime, and yet not a single cent of that money was spent in the state.

It’s a textbook case of corporate welfare that doesn’t benefit Virginia. The culprit is a federal program called the wind production tax credit. After 20 years of taking Virginians’ money once in their taxes and twice in their utility bills, the wind credit expired at the end of 2013. Now Congress is debating whether to renew this corporate cash cow.

But the evidence is mounting that these types of green and clean energy handouts are surprisingly dirty. According to a new report by CBS News, the federal government has lavished the green energy and technology industry with $150 billion in taxpayer money in recent years.

This deluge of federal funding has only resulted in a string of technological flops and business bankruptcies.

There’s no shortage of examples. Solyndra, which went bankrupt after receiving half a billion taxpayer dollars, is already well-known. Abound Solar received $400 million in loan guarantees in 2010, then filed for bankruptcy in 2012.

Fisker Automotive took $528 million in federal loans in 2009 and another $392 million in 2012, then laid off 75 percent of its workforce last April. And LG Chem took $151 million in stimulus money to build an electric car battery plant where employees were paid to do nothing.

In all of these cases, poor and middle-class taxpayers came out the real losers. They paid for it once with their taxes, and they will pay again with higher energy bills. The winners, though, are the millionaires and billionaires who used the taxpayers’ money to experiment with new technologies and business models. Our loss has been their experiential and monetary gain, even if the companies they founded go under.

Even where it hasn’t fizzled, green energy’s economic impact hasn’t been that bright. According to a comprehensive study recently released by a team of Spanish academics, each new green job costs the rest of the Spanish economy 2.2 other jobs because of the necessary subsidies.

These perverse trade-offs can be laid at the feet of government energy subsidies. Whether it’s $150 or $150 billion, the government’s financial intervention distorts the economy by shifting investment from proven job creators to expensive experiments that – as Solyndra and others demonstrate – don’t always pan out.

All of this information directly bears on the question of the wind credit and Virginia. The wind credit is a microcosm of the problems inherent in the green energy industry. Like other taxpayer-funded green initiatives, renewing it would only worsen the negative effects that such subsidies have already had on job creation and economic growth while enabling green job billionaires to continue their experiments with Virginians’ money.

There’s nothing clean about perpetuating such a system.


Tuesday, February 4, 2014 2:30 am.

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