Subsidies in the Wind
Lacking the time to thoroughly confirm Benjamin Riggs’s claims, I offer them here mainly as a point of interest:
Wind-turbine projects threaten the already fragile Rhode Island economy with extreme utility-rate increases that will hurt consumers and keep manufacturing businesses from expanding or locating here. Land-based wind turbines depend on subsidies at a rate of more than 12 times those given to the oil and gas sectors, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
I do note that this Department of Energy report from 2007 puts wind energy subsidies at $23.37 per megawatthour, while natural gas, on which Rhode Island relies most heavily, got $0.25 and coal saw $0.44. (Oil isn’t included in the tables.) I’m not sure if any of this data includes indirect subsidies created when government steps in and enables energy companies to charge a premium for “green” energy, as Riggs writes:
Legislation before the General Assembly sets the reimbursement rates for developers and municipalities at the full retail rate. That triples those electric costs for National Grid (and us), and guarantees that if conventional power costs go up, the cost of wind power will go up with it. And when these wind turbines wear out, they will have to be removed and replaced at an even higher cost.
Unfortunately, the General Assembly’s Web site appears to have been down all weekend, so I haven’t been able to look up the specific legislation to which Riggs is referring. However, the Environmental Council of Rhode Island does list a few “legislative priorities” that sound related.
It’s interesting to note that a key proponent putting his name on these energy bills in the House is Majority Leader Dominick Ruggerio (D, Providence). You know, the guy who’s forcing us all to subsidize the career of 25-year-old Stephan Iannazzi (son of Ruggerio’s union buddy) to the tune of $90,000 plus benefits. It’s certainly not the only dynamic of its kind, but it’s funny how these pieces all start to come together… the environmental movement, unions, government corruption.