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A View from the Altar / Pickens jettisons wind power in U.S. (HT: WattsUpWithThat)
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Pickens jettisons wind power in U.S. (HT: WattsUpWithThat)

T. Boone Pickens had a bold plan to revolutionize energy usage in America.  Everything worked except the plan.  As AVFTA has been reporting for a long time now, wind power is a financial bust, staying in business only to the extent that it can prosper from federal mandates and federal subsidies.  An article on a Forbes blog says Pickens is headed to Canada with his wind idea.  Says writer Andrew Schenkel, “He’s looking north of the border, in Canada, where renewable energy standards make wind a more attractive investment.”  Translation: The Canadian government is subsidizing more heavily than we are.

There are many kinds of subsidies.  The most common kind is a check from the government given when you meet certain conditions such as producing ethanol.  The more devious kind comes in the form of “standards” which require the power company to sell a certain percentage of green energy.  The green energy may be priced at three times what conventional energy is.  The rate payers pick up the tab, and the inefficient producer gets to live another day.

If the Canadians want to put a drag on their economy with this kind of thing, more power to them, so to speak.  But America doesn’t need it.  Wind power won’t need subsidies the day it becomes competitive with conventional generation, and power companies would love, love, love to have a cheap, reliable source of “green” energy.  Federal mandates won’t cause that to appear.  Better technology might, but somebody’s going to have to bet his own money on it.  The other alternative is to wait on conventional generation prices to rise until the green gadgets become competitive.  That, by the way, is not a doomsday scenario.  It’s how the real world works when government officials are not not trying to live out a fantasy at other people’s expense.

By the way, Pickens isn’t through trying to get the government to pass laws to make himself richer.  The same article in Forbes says he wants Congress to “incentivize” big trucks to burn natural gas.  Translation: If you burn compressed natural gas (CNG) in your tractor-trailer, the taxpayers will give you some money.  Pickens’s ideas might be good.  CNG is plentiful and clean.  But if it were economically viable as a transportation fuel, people would already be using it.  The reason it needs a taxpayer bailout is because it can’t stand on its own economic legs.

Note to Congress: Just say no.  And that goes for ethanol subsidies and all the other energy doodads out there clamoring for a piece of my pocketbook.

otherbrothersteve@gmail.com

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