Alexander: Ending Wind Subsidy Is Good Way To Celebrate New Year

Reduce Federal Debt And Save Tennesseans $52 Million

Friday, January 03, 2014

U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander Friday said Congress should not renew the taxpayer subsidy for wind turbines and use the $60 billion saved to reduce the federal debt. 

He said the wind production tax credit, which expired Jan.1, provided a subsidy “so generous that wind developers can give away electricity and still make a profit, while undercutting cheaper and more reliable power from coal and nuclear plants. This ‘negative pricing’ rewards expensive, unreliable power like wind and punishes cheap, reliable power from nuclear and coal plants.” Senator Alexander cited a study by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, which said that continuing the subsidy could make nuclear plants so uncompetitive that 25 percent of them could close by 2020.

Senator Alexander offered four reasons to allow the wind subsidy to expire:

1. Money saved could reduce the federal debt: 

“The massive taxpayer subsidy to windmill developers expired Jan. 1. A good way to celebrate the New Year would be to not renew it and to reduce the federal debt by $60 billion, an amount about equal to the spending in the recent budget agreement,” Alexander said. “For the next 10 years, extending the tax credit one year at a time could cost $60 billion or more, based on the most recent data from The Joint Committee on Taxation, about enough to pay for the $63 billion Congress spent in the recently passed budget agreement.” 

2. At more than 20 years old, the subsidy was long outdated and unnecessary:

"The subsidy was put in place in 1992 to jumpstart a technology, and according to the Obama administration’s former energy secretary, the technology has matured,” Senator Alexander said. Former Energy Secretary Stephen Chu testified in 2011 that wind energy is a “mature technology.”

3. The subsidy treated Tennessee and many states unfairly:

“A recent study shows wasteful wind subsidies left Tennesseans who pay federal taxes at a $52 million loss in 2012 – meaning we get very little of the benefit because the wind doesn’t blow enough in the southeastern United States, and yet our federal tax dollars go to subsidize Big Wind in other states,” Senator Alexander said. According to the study by the Institute for Energy Research, 30 states paid more to the federal government for wind subsidies than wind producers in their states received. Tennessee’s net loss was $52 million. 

4. Windmills are a scar on the landscape and use massive amounts of land for the power they produce:

“At least in our part of the country, windmills are a huge scar on the landscape – you can see their flashing lights for 20 miles,” Senator Alexander said.  “You would have to stretch wind turbines the entire length of the Appalachian Trail, from Maine to Georgia, to equal the power produced by eight nuclear plants on one square mile each – and you would still need the nuclear plants or some other form of power generation for when the wind doesn’t blow.” Based on data from the National Renewable Energy Lab, if wind power were to attempt to provide the 20 percent of the United States’ electricity that about 100 nuclear reactors currently do, it would take 150,000 two-megawatt wind turbines stretching the entire length of the earth’s equator.


Causeway Selects Top 20 Ideas To Receive $2,500 Each To Create A More Connected City

Causeway, a local non-profit that brings people together to share resources and ideas to create the change they want for our community, is wrapping up the first  ‘Causeway Challenge’, a competitive grant making program that awards $2,500 to twenty ideas that will make Chattanooga a more connected city. Applications were open August 1-29, and the panel of five community ... (click for more)

101 Mobility Of Chattanooga Now Open

101 Mobility of Knoxville has expanded into the Chattanooga area to better serve the needs of those living with disabilities and those wishing to age-in-place. 101 Mobility of Knoxville and now   101 Mobility of Chattanooga   are both local resources for mobility and accessibility solutions owned and operated by Dave Dean and Keith Kregel.   Area customers ... (click for more)

Sewell Says City, EPB "Close" On Amount Owed By Utility To City On Street Light Overbilling

City Internal Auditor Stan Sewell told City Council members on Tuesday that EPB and the city are "close" on the amount owed by the utility to the city on street light overbilling. Mr. Sewell said the city computed the amount at about $1.2 million, while he said EPB's auditing firm, Mauldin and Jenkins, has it at $1.5 million for an 89-month period that was audited. Mr. Sewell ... (click for more)

City Council Votes 5-4 On New Process For Naming IDB Members

The City Council voted Tuesday night 5-4 to set up a new process for naming members to the Industrial Development Board (IDB), which currently has four vacancies. The process includes three City Council panels: A (Districts 1, 2, 3), B (Districts 4, 5, 6), and C (Districts 7, 8, 9). Group A will fill two of the vacancies and Groups B and C one each. Agreement ... (click for more)

Dirt Decision At Camp Jordan May Come Back To Haunt East Ridge Councilmen

Wow. I thought the arrival of Bass Pro Shop would help bring East Ridge back to a position of prominence in the Chattanooga area, but the Council proved otherwise last night.  To the council - There is a reason that the developers want that dirt: It's valuable . You currently own it and the developer wants it. Bass Pro has already agreed to set up shop. They were going ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: I’m Certainly No Expert

Sometime on Monday night, after I had written a piece on getting swatted with a switch as a kid, I got an email from ESPN Canada asking if I would be a televised guest on “Off the Record,” the most watched daily sports show in Canada. The subject: corporal punishment in America. Are you kidding me? I am hardly an expert. All weekend my world of sports and its excitement was warped ... (click for more)