Bryce errs on incentives, wind’s popularity

Robert Bryce of the Manhattan Institute recently authored a misleading National Review article on wind power. The following response from Jon Goldstein, AWEA Director of Public Affairs, was posted as a comment.

It is not surprising that a fossil fuel funded energy “expert” would try to tear down wind energy. The wind power sector has enjoyed tremendous growth, adding more than a third of all new generation in the U.S. since 2007 while adding jobs in rural America and revitalizing our homegrown American manufacturing base. This growth can be seen as a positive force of American innovation, or to some, as a threat to the status quo. But you should at least expect Robert Bryce to get his facts right.

Bryce claims that the more people know about wind energy the less they like it. This claim is disproven by the facts. Iowa, for example, garners more of its electricity from wind farm (20%) than any other state, making Iowans some of the country’s foremost experts on wind power. And Iowa polling shows that those with the greatest exposure to wind turbines support it overwhelmingly and on a bipartisan basis, with a majority of Iowa voters naming wind energy as their preferred energy source for the state.

On the topic of federal support for wind energy, Bryce neglects to inform us that recent studies have shown that renewable sources of electricity actually receive far LESS federal support than did “conventional” sources during similar periods in their development. As the study 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."

Modest federal support for wind power has been extremely effective at keeping Americans at work and fostering a whole new American manufacturing sector. Unfortunately the program is set to expire soon. Unlike the oil, gas, coal, and nuclear industries that have permanent incentives, renewable energy industries will be stalled unless Congress acts soon to extend the program. Hopefully, Mr. Bryce will bear these facts in mind next time he tries to write about the American success story that is clean wind energy.

By Jon Goldstein, American Wind Energy Association Director of Public Affairs,