Is Wind Energy a Good Deal or Not?

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According to the Institute for Energy Research, the American Wind Energy Association's Interim CEO Rob Gramlich made several misleading statements about the effectiveness of wind energy and the subsidies that support it during his Tuesday testimony in a hearing before the House Science Subcommittees on Energy and Oversight. Whether the subsidies are a good deal for Americans or not depends on who you ask. Here are the details.

* Gramlich cited a Gallup poll that indicates that 71 percent of Americans want more emphasis placed on developing wind resources. While the IER concedes that the percentage quoted by Gramlich was correct, the institute stated that the survey failed to ask if respondents were willing to pay more for wind power.

* Numerous reviews have suggested that the average American is not willing to see an increase in utility bills for the sake of increasing the amount of power generated by renewable sources, the IER stated.

* The IER also took issue with Gramlich's claims that wind power was the No. 1 source of new electric generation capacity, stating that last year's growth of wind installations was a reaction of an industry that was unsure of whether the Production Tax Credit would be increased and wanted to get its projects in by deadline.

* The institute disputed Gramlich's claim that the states of Iowa and South Dakota produce enough wind energy to meet more than 20 percent of their electricity needs and that wind energy produces more than 10 percent of the electricity in nine states. "Iowa and South Dakota may produce enough wind each year to equal 20 percent of their annual electricity consumption," the IER stated, "but this does not mean that the electricity was actually needed or used when it was produced."

* The institute was also critical of Gramlich's claims about how many electric utilities bought or owned new wind power and whether wind energy and federal tax credits that support it are a good deal for America.

* "Wind energy is anything but a 'good deal' for Americans," the IER stated. "As the Government Accountability Office reports, wind energy is subsidized through dozens of different federal credits, grants, and loan guarantees, and many of these programs give wind producers unparalleled advantages over other more reliable sources of energy."

* The American Wind Energy Association stated this week that the GAO report "confirms that nearly all the financial value to wind developers is in a single remaining program." The association does state, however, that other programs which are now defunct, not used by wind energy, or apply to fossil fuels are listed in the report.

* "Wind Energy is a good deal for Americans and that's why they want more of it," Gramlich stated. "Nothing in this report changes that."

* According to the association's annual market report for 2012, wind topped all other energy sources by adding 42 percent of new U.S. electric generating capacity and generates enough power for 15.2 million homes.

* Further, the association stated, wind power development caused a noticeable uptick in the U.S. economy in the fourth quarter of 2012 and is responsible for more than 80,000 American jobs.

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