Lobbyists for the wind-energy sector are actively lobbying for a multi-year extension of the production tax credit, the 2.2 cents per kilowatt-hour subsidy given to producers of wind-generated electricity.
To justify that lucrative subsidy, which expires at the end of this year, the wind lobby continually portrays itself as being an alternative to fossil fuels.
Furthermore, the American Wind Energy Association’s spokesmen and their many boosters in the blogosphere regularly deride anyone who criticizes industrial wind projects as somehow being in the thrall of the fossil fuel sector. But their rhetoric doesn’t match reality. The hard truth is this: AWEA represents the fossil fuel industry.
AWEA’s biggest member companies may be promoting wind energy — and in the process they are reaping lucrative subsidies — but they are also among the world’s biggest users and/or producers of fossil fuels. Many of those very same fossil-fuel companies have garnered billions of dollars in tax-free cash grants and/or loan guarantees from the US government to deploy “clean” energy. An analysis of some 4,300 projects that won grants from the Treasury Department under section 1603 of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (also known as the federal stimulus bill) shows that $3.25 billion in grants went to just eight companies, all of which are either past or current board members of AWEA.
AWEA’s board of directors includes industrial companies like BP, General Electric, Iberdrola, and E.On. But the wind-energy business’s fossil fuel connection appears to be invisible to the Green/Left and to groups like the Sierra Club and Greenpeace, who actively promote wind energy at every turn. For instance, the Sierra Club recently launched a new “wind works” campaign to extol the job-related benefits of the domestic wind-energy business.
Of course, any industry can use the job-creation claim to justify more subsidies. But it’s equally apparent that AWEA and its member companies are using the guise of “clean” energy as a way to capture subsidies from American taxpayers.