Incentives for wind power development high in cost

Dec 13, 2010

To the Editor:

The Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation have released detailed estimates of the cost of the current Congressional sell out of our children and grandchildren for the benefit of a handful of industrial wind turbine owners and landlords.

The latest bill that is before the Senate is called Senate Amendment (SA) 4753. (The corresponding House Bill is H.R. 4853.)

Details of the senate bill include:

• Extension of the current legislation would allow private wind energy developers to receive a "grant in lieu of tax credit" -- an upfront tax payment -- from the U.S. Treasury equal to 30% of the cost of their projects. In other words, all of us will be 30% partners in these enterprises -- although the developers will keep 100% of the profits.

• Additionally, the developers will receive an annual tax credit equal to 2.2 cents per kWH or production of electricity. Since the wholesale price of electricity is currently hovering somewhere below 5 cents per kWH, this constitutes a hefty 40% subsidy. Consider also the fact that the conventionally produced electricity is "firm and reliable" -- a valuable commodity that you can use to run an appliance -- as opposed to electricity produced by your "partners," the wind energy developers, which is not particularly useful and is really nothing more than a scheme to make money by directing unpredictable and high cost electricity through a meter to run up a credit balance to be paid by electricity user surcharges.

• Again, your "partnership" with the developer extends only insofar as you are funding its profits -- but not receiving any yourself. You pay the surcharges that fund the Renewable Energy Credits that the developer sells, at a profit, to utilities that use them as an offset to avoid reducing their own carbon footprint.

• Bernie Madoff "only" collected $20 billion in cash from unsuspecting limited partnersand recorded an additional $45 billion in fictitious profits. The federal government, when all is said and done, proposes to collect over a trillion dollars from taxpayers through the combination of all of these incentives but they are more honest: in return for your investment, they promise you nothing. It's right there in the government’s prospectus; read it for yourself.

• The proposed extension to existing legislation provides a powerful incentive for developers to build industrial wind turbines anywhere and everywhere to reap these hefty rewards. Now you can see why anyone who owns a cranberry bog in Plymouth or Wareham, or a gravel pit in Bourne, Would want to build a wind turbine project. In addition to receiving generous grants for all of their wind studies, feasibility studies, phony acoustic and avian and wildlife studies, preliminary planning, and so forth, the developers receive a massive check from the Treasury upon completion -- the mother of all tax refunds -- and an ongoing stream of revenue equal to 40% of the price of wholesale electricity. They don't need any customers and they don't need to produce a useful product. All that they need to do is fill out a few forms and build a connection to the electric grid so that they can spin their electric meter backwards and start racking up the "net metering" credits -- for which NSTAR pays them in cash at the end of every month, or quarter.

• The program accomplishes nothing useful since study after study demonstrates that wind energy does not reduce green house gas emissions by any appreciable degree.

• The wind is free but the program costs a fortune. Obscenely expensive by any measure, wind energy is the most heavily subsidized source of electrical energy by far -- and ever -- in the history of our country.

• The wind turbines are an environmental disaster on a macro scale, because of the huge footprint, and the total cost is far in excess of any of the elements cited above because connecting the wind turbines to the grid entails considerable additional expenses, including new roads and transmission lines.

• The program is replete with hidden costs -- first and foremost, its voracious appetite for land and the imposition of intolerable and unhealthy living conditions on many innocent residents who have the misfortune to live near the installations. Naturally, since the wind turbines have a profoundly adverse effect upon the quality of life for those who live nearby, the aggregate loss in property value will be staggering.

• And finally, since the country is already running huge deficits, all of the money to fund this bold alternative energy initiative will be borrowed, which means that after we throw another trillion dollars down this black hole, with zero return on our investment -- either in terms of economic reward or environmental benefit -- we will have to pay back all of the borrowed money with interest. Or, to be more accurate, we will hand the bill for this irresponsible misadventure to our children and grandchildren and they will pay it back, with interest.

Please contact Senator Kerry and Senator Brown, and the Senate and House leadership, to register your opposition to this fiscal imprudence.

Barry C. Cosgrove

Wareham

Comments (2)
Posted by: Geoff Swett | Dec 28, 2010 20:38

Well written, thoughtful, and compelling.  Thank you.



Posted by: Noseyneighbor | Dec 29, 2010 08:41

Drill Baby Drill! We should be utilizing the abundence of resources we have.



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