WHAT’S THE TRUE COST OF WIND POWER?
BY RANDY SIMMONS ON 4/11/15 AT 5:22 PM
Editor’s note: The author of this piece, Randy Simmons, is the Charles G. Koch professor of political economy at Utah State University. He’s also a senior fellow at the Koch- and ExxonMobil-funded Property and Environment Research Center. These ties to the oil industry weren’t originally disclosed in this piece.
As consumers, we pay for electricity twice: once through our monthly electricity bill and a second time through taxes that finance massive subsidies for inefficient wind and other energy producers.
Most cost estimates for wind power disregard the heavy burden of these subsidies on US taxpayers. But if Americans realized the full cost of generating energy from wind power, they would be less willing to foot the bill – because it’s more than most people think.
Over the past 35 years, wind energy – which supplied just 4.4% of US electricity in 2014 – has received US$30 billion in federal subsidies and grants. These subsidies shield people from the uncomfortable truth of just how much wind power actually costs and transfer money from average taxpayers to wealthy wind farm owners, many of which are units of foreign companies.