Wind power has had two decades to prove itself with federal subsidies. Last year, wind power represented a third of all new electric-generating capacity, because taxpayers foot the bill for more than half of wind power’s cost. In addition, lobbyists for wind power have convinced 30 states to set mandates requiring that a certain percentage of electricity come from renewable sources — which guarantees the wind industry a market.
The subsidies directed toward wind dwarf the subsidies of other energy sectors. Robert Bryce, energy analyst for the Manhattan Institute and an NRO contributor, reports that subsidies to wind are “at least twelve times greater than those provided to the oil and gas sector and 6.5 times greater than those provided to the nuclear industry,” on a per-unit-of-energy-produced basis.
But no matter how much money is blown its way, wind power — for simple scientific reasons — can’t graduate to the kind of large-scale, reliable energy production that its backers tout. Physicist and environmentalist John Droz Jr. notes: “There is no real environmental benefit to wind, because a) it’s an unpredictable commodity, b) output from any group of wind projects can and will go to zero on many occasions, and c) energy generated from industrial wind power cannot be economically stored.” Germany, which has gone stark raving mad in building wind turbines, has proven just how unreliable it is. On one day this February, wind power delivered a third of Germany’s electricity needs, but four days later, on a still day, it contributed precisely zero.
Then there is the carnage inflicted on Mother Nature. Paul Driessen reported in the Washington Times that “the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that wind turbines kill 440,000 bald and golden eagles, hawks, falcons, owls, cranes, egrets, geese, and other birds every year in the U.S., along with countless insect-eating bats.” The actual numbers are probably far higher. The turbine blades of the nation’s 39,000 windmills move at 100 to 200 miles per hour and can mow down anything that gets in their path.
Over the past 25 years, an estimated 2,300 golden eagles have been killed by turbines at Altamont Pass, Calif., alone, leading to an 80 percent drop in the golden-eagle population of southern California.
Sadly, many Republicans have climbed on board the carnival train for wind fans. Karl Rove continued the former Bush administration’s defense of the federal wind tax credit at this year’s American Wind Energy Association convention. He was joined on stage by former Obama White House press secretary Robert Gibbs. Three leading Senate Republicans — Charles Grassley of Iowa, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Pat Roberts of Kansas — were furious last August after Mitt Romney came out in favor of ending federal largesse for wind energy. All three senators oppose even the most modest of cuts in the PTC.