End Wind Welfare

Congress enacted the Wind Production Tax Credit (PTC) in 1992 as a temporary measure for an “infant” industry. After propping up the wind industry for more than two decades, the PTC should be eliminated. Subsidized wind power increases electricity costs, harms taxpayers, and destabilizes the electric grid. It is most beneficial to wealthy wind developers who are able to reduce their tax rate at the expense of the rest of the taxpayers and ratepayers.

No matter how many subsidies and mandates the government provides to prop up wind energy, they cannot fix one of its fundamental flaws: unreliability. The wind follows the weather, not Americans’ energy needs. In fact, wind output is often lowest when energy demand is highest. This constant variation of wind output puts significant strain on the electric grid, which increases the risk of blackouts.

Industries that grow dependent on government are much less likely innovate to make their product better. The Wind PTC is over 20 years old. The technology of wind energy, compared to other energy sources (think massive technology advances in oil and natural gas), has not significantly improved over those three decades—wind power still cannot help keep the lights on when the wind isn’t blowing. These handouts have contributed to its failure to become market viable.

Wind energy is not a new, “infant” industry as the wind lobby claims. Wind turbines have been used to produce electricity for over 100 years. It did not take long to figure out back then that wind was an unreliable, expensive form of energy. Despite billions of dollars in taxpayer support over decades, not much has changed today. Wind is still an unreliable, expensive form of energy.

It is past time to end corporate welfare for the wind industry.

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