By James Taylor
Environment and Climate News
Wind power apologists say and write the silliest things. Whether economic illiteracy, political mendacity, or some other reason is to blame, Big Wind shills serially embarrass themselves by making claims that wouldn’t even make the multiple choice options for “Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader?” Here is an example published this morning by a newspaper in Kansas:
Patrick Lowry at the Hays Daily News published an article about staffers for Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R) wordsmithing Brownback’s statement that he would like to see the state phase out its renewable power mandates. Lowry utilized this news hook to display his embarrassing lack of knowledge about economics (or, as more cynical readers may say, propagate a deliberate and mendacious effort to misinform Daily News readers about energy economics).
Lowry began his wind power shilling by claiming the primary objective of folks who don’t want to be forced to purchase expensive wind power is “protecting long-standing interests of the oil industry.” Oil, however, is not used for electricity production. Oil is used to power motor vehicles. The “long-standing interests of the oil industry” might be in play if putting a propeller beanie on a Mack truck would allow said truck to barrel uphill at 70 mph, but I am wagering that even 99 percent of 5th graders know that putting a small wind propeller on an automobile is no substitute for gasoline.
Lowry further embarrassed himself by claiming that forcing consumers to purchase higher-priced electricity has “bolstered significantly” the Kansas economy.
“The relatively new wind energy business sector is reliant on subsidies, tax credits and forced mandates for energy companies to attract any private venture capital. It’s an expensive proposition, one that will not make it in the marketplace if left to its own devices. Not until that storage problem is solved. But that is precisely why the industry deserves taxpayer support. If turbines aren’t producing, there will be no research on how to maximize that energy,” Lowry argued.
Lowry acknowledged wind turbines “aren’t producing” enough to be economically competitive. He admitted Big Wind needs special “subsidies, tax credits and forced mandates” merely to remain in business. And somehow, forcing such an expensive failure of an industry on electricity ratepayers is good for the economy?
While Lowry believes government research investments in battery storage for wind power may someday make wind power cost-competitive (despite decades of government and private research investments having already failed to do so), forcing expensive wind power on Kansas now, while any such illusive technological breakthroughs are still a pipe dream, has done just the opposite of “bolster[ing] significantly] the Kansas economy. This has merely driven up the cost of living in Kansas much faster than would otherwise be the case, and making it harder for people to pay their bills is counterproductive to the state’s economic well-being.
Given such pitiable efforts to make the case for wind power, I will help Lowry along and present the best argument wind power apologists have to offer: wind power companies pay money to farmers and ranchers who allow wind turbines on their land, which enriches those farmers and ranchers. The problem with this argument, however, is wind power companies don’t simply wave a magic wand to create the rent money given to farmers and ranchers. Instead, the wind power companies raise electricity prices for all electricity customers throughout the state to pay the few farmers and ranchers who host the turbines. In a most unappealing manner, this is taxing the many to pay the few and redistributing money from poor and middle-class electricity customers to pay rich landowners.
Wind power apologists say and write the silliest things….