With the clock running out on the current U.S. Congress, lawmakers must turn their attention to the raft of issues they’ve ignored over the past year. Chief among them: whether to revive the Production Tax Credit, a taxpayer-funded handout that in 2012 gouged Louisiana taxpayers for $40 million.
That fact alone should be enough for Congress to kill the PTC. But there’s another reason Louisianians should want it dead: It’s critical to President Barack Obama’s anti-fossil fuels climate agenda.
The PTC, which was first created in 1992, subsidizes renewable energy producers — especially wind companies — for the electricity they generate. This cost taxpayers some $1.6 billion in 2012, including Louisiana’s $40 million share.
The foundation of the president’s climate agenda is the Environmental Protection Agency’s greenhouse gas emissions rule for existing power plants — a declaration of war against fossil fuels. A recent analysis found it will increase electricity prices by double-digits in 43 states. For all that pain, it would reduce global carbon dioxide emissions only by 1.5 percent by 2050.
One of the central “building blocks” of the EPA’s power plant regulation is increased wind and solar electricity generation. But wind and solar are simply not competitive without massive taxpayer subsidies — for wind, that’s the PTC.
Thus, a vote for the PTC is a vote for the president’s climate agenda.
The wind industry’s top lobbyist put it best: “Wind energy is one of the biggest, fastest, cheapest ways states can comply with the forthcoming EPA rule.”
But wind energy isn’t “cheap” — far from it. It’s is more than 125 percent more expensive than electricity generated from natural gas and over 90 percent more expensive than that from coal. The only way wind producers stay in business is with the taxpayers’ help — a la the PTC.
Wind’s recent history bears this out. When the credit is active, new wind installations soar. When it temporarily expires, new installations plummet.
That was the case in 2013 when the PTC expired. New wind installations plunged from an all-time high of 13,000 megawatts in 2012 to merely 1,100 megawatts in 2013 — a 92 percent drop in a single year. Similar declines occurred following other temporary expirations in 2000, 2002 and 2004, when new installations dropped by 92, 76 and 76 percent, respectively.
The lesson is clear: Without government handouts, wind energy doesn’t fly.
Congress can end this farce by refusing to renew the PTC. A vote against it will not only be a vote against Obama’s radical climate agenda but also a vote for millions of American families already struggling to make ends meet.
Congress should put its constituents’ interests above the president’s climate agenda. That starts with rejecting any attempt to revive the PTC.
president, American Energy Alliance