Wind power long hailed as a cheap and clean source of energy has been hit hard by the realization that being cheap is not the same as being the cheapest energy source during a recession.

Take Invenergy a company that builds wind farms.  Just two years ago the company has banks that were willing to lend it millions of dollars to provide a green breeze of juice across the country.  They even had a deal to sell energy to a utility in Virginia.  But then came the recession along with a surplus of natural gas that has turned the economic numbers against wind power.

In Virginia state regulators rejected the deal citing lower costs from fossil fuels and natural gas.  They calculated that wind energy would increase rates by 0.2 percent and that any increase couldn’t be justified no matter how small in the midst of a recession.

And so it has gone in other states like Florida,Idaho and Kentucky where deals have either been scuttled or slowed down pushing the adoption of wind energy several years down the line.

While state regulators have tried to be more fiscally responsible wind energy advocates have been arguing that the failure to add clean energy to the power mix is shortsighted and harmful to the environment.

But this is a typical liberal argument that it doesn’t matter what it costs if it’s good for the environment.  Yet in the case of many wind energy projects that is debatable.

Take Rhode Island for instance where regulators earlier this year rejected an offshore wind energy deal that would have cost 24.4 cents per kilowatt hour versus the 9.5 cents per kilowatt hour cost using electricity and fossil fuels.  That’s more than double the cost to be clean and green.  Maybe the Al Gore’s and Kennedy’s of the world can afford to pay a premium for being green but most Americans can’t and won’t especially with a sour economy.

It’s a little like going organic.  Americans flocked to stores like Whole Foods when times were good and didn’t care about overpaying for food if it was organic.  But as soon as the recession hit Whole Foods went into a tailspin that they are now only recovering from.  The same goes for many green advocates who ignored the true cost of renewable energy during the boom years but now balk at the cost of doing so leading to a slowdown in the movement.

The Rich Get Richer

Remember the Pickens Plan?  Texas oilman T. Boone Pickens extolled the virtues of wind energy several years ago as oil topped $140 a barrel and spent millions on television ads extolling his vision.

The only problem was that he was going to erect a massive number of wind turbines even in areas that had little wind which would have been heavily subsidized by the government without a clear plan as to how he was going to transmit the energy generated from such far flung locations.

If his plan had gone forward the taxpayers would have been footing the bill for a very long time in exchange for a limited amount of energy.

Pickens had a plan alright.  It was how to make his next billion on the backs of the taxpayers.

I think it is inevitable that we will move to more types of renewable energy as time goes on thanks largely to taxpayer subsidies for solar panels and wind turbines.  But with this move comes increased costs which may appear small to some but multiplied over the ratepayer base will add up to millions of dollars in unneeded expense in the name of saving the environment.

Frankly I just want cheap clean energy.  Give me nuclear.

 

 

Advertisements