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Wind and solar power, and how to outrun Usain Bolt

Here’s the master plan.  We will put Bolt in shackles and manacles, chain him to a concrete wall, and maybe have him tow a boat trailer.  Then we can all outrun him.

That’s the argument advanced in a Bloomberg article today in which the author describes the energy business in America as thriving under the beaming smile of the Obama administration.  A carbon tax would help things along nicely, say the editors.

Tax-and-subsidy schemes have been the only hope of wind and solar power all along.  The only way to bring these niche sources into the mainstream is to apply the blunt force trauma of taxation and punitive regulation, penalizing energy sources such as coal and nuclear, while larding up wind and solar power projects with billions in subsidies.

This practice will stop at some point.  The most likely scenario is that it will stop when America’s already-crushing debt burden becomes so severe that even our big-spending Congress is brought face to face with reality.  This happened in Spain where subsidized — and famously corrupt — solar power projects were summarily abandoned to their economic fate when the Spanish government reached its credit limit.

But it doesn’t have to end like that.  A small but significant victory could be achieved should the Congress decide to stop funding waste and inefficiency now.  Wind farms have mostly been tax farms.  Now that they’re built and operating, the time has come to unplug the tax ventilator and see if they can breathe on their own.

Or we can keep using regulation to shackle the winners and tax money to shelter the losers.

PS:  (8/26/2012)  For a different point of view on the need to stop subsidizing wind power, see this offering from

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