The industrial wind lobby is targeting, with increasing success, Republican governors to jump on board the Big Wind bandwagon. But the taxpayers who pick up the tab are the ones being taken for a ride, as their elected representatives support demands that “we begin investing in” these “new” energy sources.
Of course, they were commercialized in the 1880s and even Jimmy Carter increased the taxpayer’s “investment”. Just so you have an idea of how silly said pitch really is.
Consider Big Wind’s biggest champion, Iowa’s Terry Branstad (Kansas Republican Gov. Sam Brownback is a close second). The windmill industry shrewdly targeted Iowa to become their biggest state for reasons that distill into one word: ethanol.
Like Big Wind, Big Corn could have chosen, say, Nebraska, Kansas or Illinois among others as their home base. But Iowa, by happy coincidence, has a traveling circus pass through every four years, featuring a center ring of ring-kissing and vows to support economically harmful wealth transfers and market preferences.
Big Wind saw how that decision kept an industry that could not make its case to consumers make it with great, if artificial, success to politicians. What a terrific way of avoiding the need for superior economics and performance. This is a natural choice for industries that only exist due to political dispensations.
The pitch opens with political catnip: Mr. Governor, we’re so very impressed with your state and look forward to hosting you at some ribbon-cutting ceremonies to praise you for creating lots of jobs.
As Georgia Republican Governor Nathan Deal’s spokesman was just quoted saying: “these parts have got to be made somewhere, and from the governor's point of view, it should be done in Georgia.”
Then, after we’d like to build the things here -- with some “incentive” out of the taxpayer’s pocket to make those ribbon-cutting ceremonies happen, of course -- comes for these factories to really hum, well, we’ll need you to buy the things, too. Voila, soon the taxpayer also gets a requirement that a certain percentage of electricity consumed come from “renewable sources” (as defined by the same politicians leaping at this).
Which brings us back to the preface to the Gov. Deal spokesman’s comment, which was, quote, “We're not going to produce wind energy here, but...” Proving too much, the young man let slip a little-noted fact that should kill any talk of the national windmill mandate Big Wind and their Republican errand boys are lobbying for.
Some states might produce some relatively meaningful quantity of wind-powered electricity. The southeast United Sates are, like most, not among them. But, heck, certain Midwestern states will be happy to charge your state’s ratepayers for the delight, foisted on them by their own politicians, of claiming that some of their electrons were generated by windmills. (One Florida radio host I know demands his state “break our dependence on foreign sources of wind!”)
Plains states are where those “jobs” will briefly appear that industry flacks insist will come, which are best labeled “temporary installation jobs”.
This omitted fact is somewhat material, given that temporary jobs account for nearly all of the jobs created from putting such schemes in place. For example, President Obama used to cite Spain as his ideal. There, 90% were temporary jobs.
That was before Spain’s obviously temporary “renewable” bubble burst. As did Germany’s. And Denmark’s. And China’s. Leaving U.S. politicians who promote this economic baby-talk plum out of success stories to point us to for closer inspection.
Regardless, the next, ritual step is that each of these states harming themselves by mandating the use of energy’s answer to the Pet Rock -- and those who simply lured them to open Pet Rock factories, to make things dependent on others mandating their use -- come to Washington and demand that every American be forced to use the things.
After all, they did the hard part by standing the Potemkin businesses up in the first place. Now it’s time for the rest of America to keep these bad “investment” choices afloat.
Which is precisely what Republican governors are demanding now, as Big Wind’s latest in a twenty-year series of “temporary” wind production tax credits faces expiration at the end of this year. Their demand is for “certainty” for the windmill business ignoring, as politicians of all stripes do that if you have certainty, you aren’t in business. You’re a ward of politicians.
Besides, the rules are pretty clear: this tax-code sop is expiring (again), and if you get your project up in 2012 you will have ten more years of freebies. If you don’t, well, you don’t. What could be more certain? The only uncertainty is created by politicians demanding that agreed plans be overturned. Again.
How about some certainty for the taxpayer and ratepayer?
It’s time to kick Big Wind out of our collective basement and tell them to get real jobs. Jobs that don’t depend on favors from buddies in government, which ultimately means our pockets, and to grasp that performance, not government-bestowed “certainty” for non-performers, is what makes you a “sustainable” business.