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What AWEA (and CANwea) Doesn’t Want You To Know About Wind Power

Institute for Energy Research — Canada Free Press — November 9, 2012

Renewable Electricity Standards and Other Pro-Wind Policies

In 2011, wind energy generated 2.9 percent of our electricity. And, yes, its level of generation has more than doubled since President Obama has taken office. While there is no doubt that his policies have benefited the wind industry, the major policy influencing wind power growth has been renewable electricity standards that 30 states and D.C. have requiring a specified amount of electricity be generated from qualifying renewable technologies by a certain future date. Both these mandates and subsidies have led to wind being used even when it is destructive to wildlife and detrimental to other technologies on the grid.

Wind, like all sources of energy, has both good and bad attributes. Some of the attributes people seldom consider when thinking about wind is, for example, its propensity to kill birds, bats, and other flying objects that come within its path, cause noise pollution which deprives people of sleep, require large land areas for its turbines, and provide only a fraction of the electricity that traditional technologies provide.

Renewable Electricity Standards and Other Pro-Wind Policies

Thirty states and the District of Columbia have renewable electricity standards that require increasing amounts of electricity generation from qualified renewable technologies. Since wind power is one of the least expensive qualified renewable technologies, its generation has increased by 116 percent and its capacity has increased by 83 percent since 2008. Of course, federal policies such as the production tax credit, the stimulus, and the 1603 Treasury program have helped encourage its development as well.

Further, taxpayers are paying huge sums to subsidize wind power.According to the Energy Information Administration, subsidies for wind power in fiscal year 2010 were almost $5 billion, 19 percent more than the subsidies that fossil fuels (oil, gas, and coal) received. And, 97 percent of the wind subsidies were due to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.[ia] Further, in 2010, wind power produced just 2.3 percent of our generation, making wind energy subsidies cost $56.29 per megawatt hour, while coal subsidies were just $0.64 per megawatt hour and natural gas and petroleum subsidies were the same as coal on a per megawatt hour basis. That is, wind subsidies were 88 times higher than those for coal or natural gas and petroleum on a unit of production basis.These policies have also changed who pays for the increased cost of electricity from just the users within the states that have the mandates to the U.S. taxpayer as well. That means that residents of the southeastern United States, for example, that do not have good wind resources help pay for wind energy consumed in states that want the increased wind power and have the wind resources.

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