Are Pacificorp’s wind turbines shredding endangered bird species? The Interior Department is being sued by Pacificorp to prevent them releasing figures on the avian death toll to an AP reporter, thereby hoping to stave off sullying wind power’s clean image. Are the carcasses of bald eagles scattered around these silent killers? Ok, large wind turbines are anything but silent, but is this an issue to get worked up over? Clearly it’s a black mark against the highly subsidized industry and it’s no accident this story is being circulated right at the time that the lame duck Senate may do battle with House Republicans over extending tax credits to the wind industry. It is time for wind power to prove itself without government handouts is what the GOP has been saying for some time, and that time seems to have come. That billionaire Warren Buffet owns Pacificorp means the handouts the company gets from Washington are hardly an act of charity. If wind power – or any other alternate energy source – is to capture a significant share of the energy market in America, then it will have to do so on it’s own two feet.

It is simply not sustainable to keep subsidizing wind farms decade after decade. Not only does it cost taxpayers money, it ties up capital in what may not be the best option. Now $13 billion over 10 years is not major money by some standards, but 13 billion in reduced payroll taxes for small businesses, for example, is much more than a rounding error. But more importantly, there is nothing like the necessity of avoiding bankruptcy, or going into bankruptcy and then trying to emerge, for spurring innovation that pays for itself by providing a service that is profitable and cost-effective. A little less coddling and a little more market discipline would do the wind industry good and would free up capital to pursue other avenues or even rethink the wind industry itself. A selective expiry of tax credits for the wind industry should be allowed to take place. For the industry’s sake itself.

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