Robert Bryce, National Review
If anyone needed proof that subsidy-dependent businesses will always seek more subsidies, look no further than the U.S. wind industry. On Wednesday, the wind sector won a vote in the House on a tax bill that includes a one-year extension of the production tax credit (PTC), which gives wind companies 2.3 cents for every kilowatt-hour of electricity they produce. The companies can collect that subsidy for a decade after they are deemed eligible.
The extension of the PTC was part of a bill that contained more than 50 tax breaks and subsidies that will cost taxpayers more than $40 billion. The portion attributable to the wind industry: about $6.3 billion. It appears that the Senate will pass the bill and President Obama will sign it into law. Thus the wind industry, which has been getting subsidies (with a few short interruptions) since 1992, will continue feeding at the trough. If there was any doubt that the wind industry needs subsidies, look at the statement put out on Tuesday by the American Wind Energy Association, the sector’s main lobbying group. AWEA said that after the PTC expired in 2013, “new wind installations came to a halt, resulting in a 92 percent drop in new wind projects.”
Of course, rent-seeking entities love to claim that their pet projects deserve subsidies because they will create jobs. Indeed, the phrase “create jobs” appears twice in a one-page letter that was sent to leaders of Congress last month imploring them to extend the PTC. The letter was signed by AWEA and some 450 organizations, including the usual environmental groups — the Sierra Club, Clean Water Action, the National Wildlife Federation, and the Wilderness Society — as well as a host of major corporations. Among them: NextEra Energy, one of the world’s largest wind-energy producers. I wrote about NextEra last year in these pages after the company filed a SLAPP suit in Canada against Ontario anti-wind activist Esther Wrightman. (Here’s a link. Wrightman, by the way, has since moved out of Ontario, and the project she was fighting, NextEra’s Adelaide Wind Energy Centre, has gone forward.) Others that signed the subsidy-seeking letter included Siemens Corporation, E.On, and Nucor Corporation, which is one of America’s biggest steel producers. Read article