Editorial

Grassroots: NO to the Wind PTC

Our representatives know that the PTC is wildly unpopular. They’ve heard all the arguments. ..A stand-alone floor vote on the PTC would have put an end to its nonsense, but Congress preferred instead to coddle this costly giveaway safely in the corpulent folds of other, must-pass extender language.

It’s December. The wind production tax credit (PTC) has been expired for nearly a year, and, no surprise, Big Wind and its friends in Congress are again pressing for another extension.

Our representatives know that the PTC is wildly unpopular. They’ve heard all the arguments, year-after-year: How that 23-year old subsidy has outlived its usefulness and is, in fact, harming taxpayers and our competitive energy markets. A stand-alone floor vote on the PTC would have put an end to its nonsense, but Congress preferred instead to coddle this costly giveaway safely in the corpulent folds of other, must-pass extender language. Last summer, the Senate Finance Committee approved a $95-billion tax bill that included a 2-year extension of the wind PTC (2015 and 2016), and the PTC was the 3rd most expensive provision in the bill at $10.5 billion.

It now looks as though this tactic has worked again. Late Monday, Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady and the Republican leadership agreed to language granting PTC yet another 2 years.

Public Backlash to the PTC

When the public is made aware of the proposed extension, the backlash is sure to hit hard. Americans across the United States are fed up with paying the way for this politically well-connected, high-priced, low-value resource that cannot meet our electric capacity needs and has proven a costly option for reducing emissions.

To give readers a sense of how significant the opposition is, the Windaction Group invited those concerned with the impact of large-scale wind energy development in their communities to sign the letter below, which urges Congress to oppose any further extensions to the PTC. Within 24-hours, more than six-thousand names poured in from Maine, New Hampshire and New York to North Dakota, California and Texas. The response was wider and deeper than we could have imagined. Many of the respondents were newcomers to the wind debate this year. Had we had more time, the number of signers would have easily topped 12,000. And for every one person who signed the letter, you can be sure that one hundred others shared the same concern, putting the number of opponents at more than a million—and growing!

Most important, all those who responded were true grassroots supporters and not funded by any organization. They were mothers and fathers, ratepayers and taxpayers. And they all know about, and have experienced the economic, social, and environmental harm that follows when Big Wind comes to a region.

Now that the extender bill has been released, let’s have a debate in Congress. The public deserves to hear why members of both the House and Senate believe the wind industry merits more billions, especially since the Department of Energy is now touting wind as competitive with (or under) the price of gas. And especially since the wind industry itself has stated that the wind PTC is no longer needed!

The 1992 tax credit has done its job. End the PTC now!

Letter:

Re: Citizens’ Plea to END the Wind Energy Production (PTC)
END it COMPLETELY, and END it NOW!

Dear Rep. Brady, Rep. Flores, Rep. Jordan, and Rep Tiberi:

We, the undersigned, join many thousands of U.S. taxpayers and ratepayers nationwide in urging you and your colleagues to oppose any effort by Congress to reinstate the Production Tax Credit (‘PTC’) for Wind Energy.

This time last year, Congress awarded the wind industry with a 1-year, $6.4 billion extension of the PTC. This was preceded by a $12 billion dollar extension passed in January 2013 and nearly $13 billion in direct cash outlays issued under the Section 1603 grant program for wind projects placed in service by the end of 2012. That’s over $30 billion in committed taxpayer funds in a few short years and above the billions spent since 1992. Despite this, the wind industry remains economically unviable and is again demanding billions more.

While public policy has helped emerging renewables, it is now evident that the 23-year old subsidy has outlived its usefulness and is, in fact, harming taxpayers and our competitive energy markets. For example:

  1. The wind PTC is an uneconomical policy for reducing CO2 emissions and one of the most expensive approaches to complying with the administration’s Clean Power Plan.
  2. The pre-tax value of the wind PTC (3.5¢/kWh) equals, or exceeds the wholesale price of power in much of the country. The enormity of this subsidy relative to wholesale energy prices is distorting competitive energy markets and harming the financial integrity of other, more reliable generation.
  3. The wind PTC pays renewable generators the same price for producing a kilowatt-hour of energy regardless of location or time of day and seasonal demand requirements. The subsidy wrongly encourages renewable generation to be built in the wrong places and that operates when least needed.
  4. Today, hundreds of thousands of acres across most U.S. states have been transformed into sprawling wind generating facilities strung together with expansive and costly transmission systems. Thousands of 500+ foot tall spinning towers consume our open spaces and threaten people, property and wildlife in their way.

No traditional source of electric generation has ever received an open-ended, unlimited subsidy comparable to the PTC for every kilowatt hour of energy put on the grid. Some insist the wind PTC is an effective tool to keep electricity rates low. In fact, it is nothing more than a cost imposed on all taxpayers in order to accommodate development of a politically well-connected, high-priced, low-value resource that cannot meet our electric capacity needs and has proven a costly option for reducing emissions.

End the wind PTC now!

DEC 14 2015
http://www.windaction.org/posts/43973-grassroots-no-to-the-wind-ptc
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