On Feb. 11, U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., told energy regulators that not renewing the wind production tax credit (PTC) ‘would help to produce new jobs because subsidizing wind drives up costs, undercuts reliable electricity and chases away jobs.’
In an address to the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, Alexander said, ‘We are at a fork in the road that will determine whether our country can compete for good jobs in a 21st-century economy. The surest path toward cheap, clean, reliable energy is to end Washington's obsession with wasteful energy subsidies and rely instead on free enterprise and government-sponsored research.
"The right first step on that path is to not renew the massive wind production tax credit. Or, we can take the path of Germany, subsidizing domestic wind and solar and buying energy from other countries as part of a costly cap-and-trade scheme that drives up the cost of electricity and chases away jobs," he said.
Alexander claimed that U.S. wind subsides are so generous that, in some markets, wind producers can "give their power away and still make money." This undercuts more reliable and affordable forms of energy, such as nuclear and coal plants, he added.
The senator cited a study by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, which found that such "negative pricing" tied to wind subsidies could close as much as 25% of the nation's nuclear plants by 2020.
"Nuclear power today is 60 percent of our clean, cheap, reliable electricity," he said. "Think of what could happen with blackouts and lost jobs if as much as 25 percent of nuclear power disappeared within six years.
"The United States uses 20 percent of all the electricity in the world. We need reliable, cheap power and lots of it, not expensive power that only is available when the sun shines and the wind blows," he continued.