A more honest view of energy subsidies is provided in a recent report, "What Would Jefferson Do?" from DBL Investors, which found that "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."
The call for an end to all energy subsidies from Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) could be a laudable goal if it treated all energy resources fairly, and treated energy fairly relative to other sectors. Unfortunately, his proposed legislation doesn’t work that way. It unfairly singles out the most promising source of new manufacturing jobs while protecting billions of dollars in incentives for other energy sources and all non-energy sectors. Honest reform of tax incentives must start with a level playing field.
The fact is, with the threat of the PTC coming to an end, the companies that build wind farm plants are not making plans and American manufacturers are not receiving orders. Job layoffs have started already. The wind turbines industry is facing the recurrence of the boom-bust cycle it has seen in previous years when the PTC was allowed to expire briefly before being renewed by Congress. In the years following expiration, installations of new wind turbines dropped between 73% and 93%, and many jobs were lost. Such a dramatic drop in business is hard on companies and workers and their families at the best of times, but it will be a very punishing blow in the current economy.
The development of wind power and other renewable energy sources is important for the future of the country and health of the environment. Wind energy is clean, abundant, and homegrown, and its cost is dropping. The case for continuing to invest in it is very strong.
By Kevin Haley, www.awea.org/blog/