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What’s the True Cost of Wind Power?

Newsweek OPINION

By 4/11/15 at 5:22 PM

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 U.S. 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 supplies just 2 percent of U.S. electricity—has received $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.

Proponents tend to claim it costs as little as $59 to generate a megawatt-hour of electricity from wind. In reality, the true price tag is more than two and a half times that.

This represents a waste of resources that could be better spent by taxpayers themselves. Even the supposed environmental gains of relying more on wind power are dubious because of its unreliability—it doesn’t always blow—meaning a stable backup power source must always be online to take over during periods of calm.

But at the same time, the subsidies make the U.S. energy infrastructure more tenuous because the artificially cheap electricity prices push more reliable producers—including those needed as backup—out of the market. As we rely more on wind for our power and its inherent unreliability, the risk of blackouts grows. If that happens, the costs will really soar.

Read more of this article from Newsweek, here.

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