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Federal support for fossil fuel industry far greater than for renewables

To the editor,
A recent letter ("Wind energy less economically viable than it was 20 years ago," Dec. 28) gets the facts wrong on wind power. Incentivizing domestic energy production makes economic sense, as those incentives lower consumer costs, create jobs, and help create a diverse national energy mix.
All energy sources have received incentives and for a fair comparison of government incentives, one must have a historic perspective.
Over the last 90 years, the federal support for the fossil fuel industry has been far greater than for renewables. In fact, according to a DBL Investors study, the federal commitment to oil and gas was five times greater than for renewables during the first 15 years of each set of incentives. Government support totaling nearly $600 billion has been provided to bolster the production of conventional fossil energy sources.
Wind power and the Production Tax Credit (PTC) have been proven to be cost effective. The PTC has driven $15 billion a year in private investment, helping to create a supply chain for the wind industry that spreads across 44 states.
Even better, wind power has been shown to save consumers money. In 2010, a New England Wind Integration Study found that wholesale electricity prices would decline anywhere from $5 per MWh to $11 per MWh if the region generated 20% of its power from wind, depending on which sites were used for wind production. This is because adding wind energy to the power system displaces output from the most expensive power plants that are currently operating. Because wind power has no fuel cost, it also protects consumers from volatility in the price of other fuels, much like a fixed rate mortgage protects consumers from fluctuations in interest rates.
In short, incentivizing American wind energy through the PTC have been a bipartisan policy success story, as it has helped to pave the way for an abundant, clean, renewable energy future.
Elizabeth Salerno
Chief Economist
American Wind Energy Association
Washington
 
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