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Permanent tax credit for white men?

Why not?  Denise Bode, president of the American Wind Energy Association wants a permanent tax credit for her pet thingy, windmills.  I figure we should skip the middle step of pretending this is about energy or efficiency or the environment.  She wants money, and taxpayers have money.  Congress is where you go to get it.  Is this simple or what?

How much are you paying for windmills now?  The New York Times reports,

Installed wind capacity grew 40 percent last year, powered largely by passage of the stimulus bill. That law included a three-year extension of a 2.1-cent tax credit for every kilowatt-hour of green power produced, plus language allowing a federal grant in lieu of the value of that tax credit.

In case you were wondering, 2.1 cents per kilowatt-hour of electricity is just about the busbar wholesale price of power from the best run nuclear plants.  So Mr. Taxpayer could buy the whole production of a nuclear plant for the price he’s shelling out for just the subsidies on wind power.

Small wonder, then, that Ms. Bode is grimly determined to see a cap-‘n-tax bill make it through Congress this year.  Without a steady supply of federal butter, the wind industry is toast.  Quoth she, “It’s our mission to win. Because if we don’t, we lose an opportunity that likely won’t come back again here in the U.S.”

She’s at least partly right.  Time is definitely against the green gadget energy industry.  As the Europeans fall into the debt vortex, one of the first things they’re slashing is profligate spending on windmills and solar panels.  As we’ve noted previously, the solar panels in Spain turned out to be diesel-powered.  As America’s fiscal crises deepens, the wary public already knows we just cannot afford to be throwing money at wildly inefficient and unreliable energy sources.

Whatever your complaints about coal, gas, hydro, and nukes, the fact is they work.  The power you’re using right now is a mix of these.  You didn’t give a second thought about whether your computer would boot up when you flipped the switch.  But if the other end of that switch had a windmill or solar panel hooked to it, might not know till you tried it.

Unless, of course, your utility kept all the old reliable power sources on hot standby.  That’s what utilities are doing now.  And it’s expensive, which is why every windmill you plug into the grid actually drives up cost.  For now, you’re paying for it with your taxes.  If Ms. Bode gets her way, you’ll be paying even more, permanently.

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