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Subsidizing wind

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Tuesday, May 13, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
 

Renewing federal tax credits for wind energy would blatantly waste taxpayer dollars on a manifestly unsustainable industry that's wholly dependent on government subsidies.

Wind power first received tax credits in 1992 but still isn't ready for prime time. Yet the Senate Finance Committee has approved a two-year renewal that would cost taxpayers about $13 billion over a 10-year lifespan, worth 2.3 cents per kilowatt-hour of electricity produced.

The last renewal, for 2013, allowed tax credits for projects under construction. The credits previously applied only to finished projects. American Wind Energy Association figures show installations rose sharply as 2012 ended and spiked again in 2013's fourth quarter as the industry took advantage of that change. It all prompted Erika Johnsen to write for the website Hot Air: “Could the wind industry's utter dependence on ... taxpayer help ... be any more apparent?”

There are better uses for taxpayer dollars than subsidizing wind energy, which “undercuts” more reliable coal and nuclear plants that are critical for meeting electricity demand, Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., writes in The Wall Street Journal. He also notes wind turbines' noise and unsightliness. And don't forget the toll they take on birds.

“A mature technology should stand on its own in the marketplace,” Mr. Alexander says. After 20-plus years of tax credits, wind energy remains far short of such maturity and glaringly undeserving of more taxpayer largesse.

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