|Workers preparing the base for|
Turbine at Chesapeake college in
Wind has become a part of many conventional utility companies’ portfolios where it has proved to be anything but unreliable. During the scorching summer heat of 2011, Texas electrical grids buckled under soaring demand and conventional modes of production could not keep pace. Wind turbines picked up the slack and kept the air conditioning and lights on in thousands of Texas homes.
While the wind sector has experienced its share of the attrition from the global economic downturn, the worldwide wind picture appears strong, with European markets stable and China claiming the top spot in terms of global wind energy production.
On the other hand, the United States has seen its share of production in the wind sector decline by half in 2011. This year has seen the nation’s first planned offshore wind farm, Cape Wind, struggle with bureaucratic red tape and a fierce backlash from citizens concerned with the sight, sound and placement of the turbines. These factors, combined with wrangling on behalf of the utility companies and lawsuits have caused the gears of Cape wind to grind to a halt.
More menacing is the prospect that Congress, (who recent polling shows is tied with Hugo Chavez at 9% for popularity among American citizens) gripped by the hysteria of austerity, will decide to scale back or entirely dispense with the federal grants making much of utility scale wind possible. If this happens, analysts and industry leaders predict that, while it will not kill the wind industry in the United States, it will greatly slow its advance.
At a time when the nation badly needs jobs, it makes little sense to gut the funding from an internationally growing industry. It goes beyond poor judgment and into the realm of outright cruelty, when one takes into account the thousands of Americans who will lose their jobs should Congress decide to remove these important and necessary subsidies.
Contrary to what some would have us believe, the oil, natural gas and especially the nuclear energy sector all had substantial subsidies, grants and miscellaneous perks afforded them by Congress in efforts to turn them into the behemoths of industry they are today. At a time when Marcellus Shale is generating revenue hand over fist, it is nonsensical to advocate for the retention of subsidies for the fossil fuel industry while demanding that government cut aid to clean energy.
On November 2, 2011, bipartisan legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives to extend the renewable energy production tax credits. The legislation is H.R. 3307: “American Renewable Energy Production Tax Credit Extension Act of 2011.” I strongly urge anyone who reads this post to write, email or call their congressman or congresswoman and urge them to cosponsor this bill and demand that they advocate for America’s rightful clean and renewable energy future.
- By Richard Harrod