NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Why We Need to Terminate Big Wind Subsidies

May 10, 2012

The American wind power lobby has engaged in a full-court press to expand the role of wind in America's energy sector.  Pushing for bills at both the federal and state levels, industry advocates like the American Wind Energy Association insist that subsidies for their products will produce huge returns for American consumers in clean, renewable electricity, says Paul Driessen at

However, a large coalition of citizens around the country finally seems to have had its eyes opened to the truly disingenuous claims of the lobby, urging representatives and senators to run to ground wind-supporting bills.  Substantial reasons to oppose the lobby can be found in their impact on energy production alone.

  • Turbines average only 30 percent of their "rated capacity" -- and less than 5 percent on the hottest and coldest days, when electricity is needed most.
  • In fact, turbines frequently draw electricity from the grid to keep blades turning when the wind is not blowing.
  • Moreover, despite tens of billions in subsidies, wind turbines still generate less than 3 percent of U.S. electricity.

Their harmful impact on the energy industry is not the only reason to oppose turbines' continued government support: further reasons can be found in their economic and environmental impacts.

  • Wind has never been able to compete economically with traditional energy, and there is no credible evidence that it will be able to in the foreseeable future.
  • This is especially true given the current bottoming out of electricity rates associated with abundant natural gas production.
  • Furthermore, as Spain, Germany, Britain and other countries have learned, wind energy mandates and subsidies drive up the price of electricity.
  • Environmentally, the manufacturing of turbines, their transportation and installation, and the laying of dense networks of transmission lines produce substantial emissions and create a significant footprint.
  • Wind turbines, transmission lines and backup generators also require vast amounts of crop, scenic and wildlife habitat land.
  • U.S. wind turbines also slaughter nearly half a million rare, threatened, endangered and otherwise protected flying creatures every year.
  • There is no evidence that even thousands of U.S. wind turbines will affect future global temperatures by more than a few hundredths of a degree.

Source: Paul Driessen, "Why We Need to Terminate Big Wind Subsidies,", May 8, 2012.

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