• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • Wind Mills: Not Spinning, Not Creating Jobs

    The cold weather is creating a number of unintended consequences for new energy designs. First, snow accumulating on LED traffic light bulbs wouldn’t melt because the lights failed to heat up resulting in car accidents, and in some instances, death. In Minnesota, the weather resulted in wind turbines freezing and thus not turning even if it is windy. This local news story has the details:


    But that’s not the only problem with wind power. It’s not the economic savior the government thought it would be. The stimulus money is failing to create the clean energy jobs the White House said it would:

    America’s wind energy industry enjoyed a banner year in 2009, thanks largely to tax credits and other incentives packed into the $787-billion economic stimulus bill. But even though a record 10,000 megawatts of new generating capacity came on line, few jobs were created overall and wind power manufacturing employment, in particular, fell — a setback for President Obama’s pledge to create millions of green jobs. In the wind industry, the bill saved about 40,000 factory, installation and maintenance jobs, according to the American Wind Energy Assn. The industry had gained as many as 2,000 installation and maintenance jobs in producing the record megawatts of new capacity, but wind power manufacturing lost just as many jobs, the trade group said.

    Clean-energy leaders and many outside analysts added that green companies won’t begin hiring in large numbers until the federal government mandates renewable power consumption nationwide and dramatically upgrades the nation’s electric grid.”

    The fact that tax credits and handouts in the stimulus, along with other handouts in previous energy bills, still can’t produce a viable wind industry should be a telling sign that it is not economically viable. If a federal mandate that says we have to include renewable energy in our electricity consumption is the only way to trigger companies to build wind power, maybe it’s time to take a second look.

    Yet Senior Advisor at the Department of Energy Matt Rogers says, “We are not in the business of picking winners” but instead “creating competition among innovative approaches in the marketplace.” But when certain energy sources enjoy preferential treatment, it comes at the expense of others. By including some energy sources in a renewable electricity mandate but not others is explicitly picking winners and losers. A renewable electricity standard itself picks winners and losers. There’s no other way around it.

    And the reason the government has to pick winners is because the losers (coal, natural gas, and nuclear) supply electricity at a much cheaper rate. So not only do Americans have to fund the construction of windmills as taxpayers, they’ll also have to pay as energy consumers for pricier electricity. This is not creating competition; it’s market distortion. Selling it any other way is spinning the story, which is much more spinning than the wind turbines in Minnesota are doing.

    Posted in Energy [slideshow_deploy]

    10 Responses to Wind Mills: Not Spinning, Not Creating Jobs

    1. TonyfromOz says:

      These particular Minnesota wind turbines are indicative of wind turbines everywhere.

      As starkly shown in the Energy Information Administration's own figures, the total wind power complement in the U.S. now nearly 36,000MW of Nameplate Capacity, are only delivering power at the rate of 20% when compared to that total Nameplate Capacity. This is the same virtually everywhere these towers are in operation across the World, effectively meaning they are only delivering the full capacity for 5 hours a day.

      Once the hydraulic fluid problem with these Minnesota towers is worked out they can deliver their power to the residents of that State, in the vicinity of 57 Million KWH of usable power.

      For context, look at the power delivered from the medium sized Nuclear power plant in the same State, the Prairie Island Facility.

      This plant can deliver that same power produced in a whole year from all those wind towers in that State, delivering the same amount of usable power every two days and eight hours.

    2. Bobbie Jay says:

      Just like government not to think of the most obvious downfalls. Location, Location, location.

    3. Dan, Pasadena, CA says:

      Does the assertion that coal, natural gas, and nuclear supply energy at cheaper rates factor in all of the negative externalities of those technologies?

    4. Pingback: Wind Mills: Not Spinning, Not Creating Jobs | Conservative Principles Now

    5. Daniel Reinman says:

      Assuming a negative externality implies that you are only focusing on one side of the equation – surely, there are positive externalities, just as there are negative ones. This is true for wind, solar, nuclear, coal, and what have you. In a market economy, all of these things are taken into account and are summarized in the price/cost of those scarce resources which have alternative uses – in this case, energy. The fact that some sources of energy – taking all price/cost considerations into account – are still cheaper than subsidized sources (which by definition, try to artificially limit negative externalities) reveals the true inefficiency of the more expensive alternatives,and hence, their inflated costs to society and the allocation of scarce resources as a whole.

    6. Dustin, Kansas City, says:

      It sounds like the government is not only in the business of picking winners and lossers, it is also in the business of screwing the American taxpayers. Everything that is bad about this country is bad because the government in some way, some how, has it's greedy, power hungry hands all over it.

    7. William Ford, PA says:

      Wind turbines may have there place but not if the only way they can succeed is with the use of government money (our money). This is like the ethanol problem we had just a few years ago. Why do elected officals think they have to run everything in our lives.

    8. gary steinberg says:

      Please check into the wind scam in Maine.

      Companies like First Wind receive outright grants for wind industrial complexes that do nothing more than collect subsidies for the privileged few off the tax dollars of citizens, for ruined environment and little electricty , to the tune of $24/MW production. In addition, illegal legislation (Expedited Wind Law), thwarts the Maine State constitution and citizens apellate rights and voice for siting of these turbines, creating adverse health affects for unfortunate abutters.. There is a Supreme Court case this week that will test its constitutionality in Maine however .There is a self -serving governor who openly states he will work in this industry at the end of his term this year.There is an inside sefl-serving Energy Cairman. Even the ex-PUC chair now works for First Wind, well connected to the White House.

      It seems the Maine State constitution has been breached, as well as due process for citizens in this state. A full investigation should be initiated . From the AG, to the head medical doc in the state, the process is a perverion of the law.It is time for a serious look in Maine concerning the Wind Rush. CAP and TRADE creation of REC's and subsidy collection of 'The Power Elite" in this state is the only goal. Citizens be damned.

    9. John Gray says:

      My wife and I were on a trip in Quebec last summer and took a

      scenic route home. We went from Quebec City to The Gaspe pen-

      insula. It seemed we passed at least a hundred Windmills all along

      the route. Has there been a study of what their history has been as

      it relates to that industry. I know, we are talking about the Canadien

      Govt. here. But I understand they have a stake in Maine's Windfarm

      on Kibby Mt. right on the border?

    10. jonmarkp denver says:

      Wow, what a crock! In one post you’re whining that nuclear energy deserves subsidies, yet you're whining here that renewable energy does not deserve subsidies. You completely neglect the fact that the oil and coal industries have benefitted from massive, almost incomprehensible tax subsidies for over 100 years.

      Why not just be honest? Your problem with renewable energy is that it does not require the massive expenditure of capital that keeps consumers firmly in the grip of top-down distributors, who can charge whatever they please. A group of farmers or ranchers can band together and install their own turbines, and furnish most of their own power at 1/10 the cost charged by a big utility. You know what they call that? That's the Free Market at work; yeah, the very same Free Market that Conservatives blather about while working to defeat it at every turn. You may have duped the choir you preach to, but some of us are on to you.

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.