“The wind industry consumes nearly 80 percent of all federal subsidy dollars for renewable energy and 55 percent of all federal energy subsidies, according to David Brown, senior vice president for government affairs for Exelon, a nuclear power company. Because wind farms almost always are located far from where the energy will be used, power companies must construct huge transmission lines to take in this additional capacity they do not need. And since wind performs worst when it’s needed most, those traditional power companies it does so much to undermine must stand ready to make up for the needs it cannot meet.” – Conn Carroll
But, who cares! Certainly not the majority of members of the Senate Finance Committee who decided to recommend that taxpayers once again fill the tin cup of the for-profit industrial wind business.
Yep! Confirming once again that it is beyond the ability of Congress to construct a comprehensive, fair and effective tax law, the Committee instead issued a patch-work quilt of fixes known as the EXPIRE Act. Sadly, EXPIRE has nothing to do with term limits for elected officials. EXPIRE is actually short for “Expiring Provisions Improvement Reform and Efficiency Act” or, as the Senate Finance Committee web site further clarifies, “an original bill entitled “The Tax Technical Corrections Act of 2014” (The Tax Technical Corrections Act of 2014 includes both technical corrections and deadwood provisions, which are described separately in the attachments); and to fill vacancies on subcommittees, the Joint Committee on Taxation, the Congressional Oversight Group, and the Congressional Trade Advisors on Trade Policy and Negotiations.” And no … unfortunately … the “deadwood provisions” mentioned have nothing to do with term limits for elected officials either.
Now might be a good time to remind ourselves that, in spite of the valiant efforts of the wind industry lobby to nominate wind companies to energy sainthood, wind companies are in it for the buck. You might recall comments made a couple of years ago by Gabriel Alonzo, then chief executive of Horizon Wind, who told his employees that their goal isn’t to stage a renewable-energy revolution, “This is all about making money!“
Now don’t get me wrong … I certainly don’t mind a leader suggesting that profit is the reason for his company’s existence. I also don’t mind that, unless I’m mistaken, this is the same Gabriel Alonzo currently listed by the American Wind Energy Association as Board Chair. After all, making profit is why folks go into business and you certainly can’t fault AWEA for having him guide the organization. AWEA’s job is to insure the field is set for their members to make a hefty profit. And, after all, isn’t profit the ultimate reason they lobby congress so hard for legislation such as the EXPIRE Act? They are, after all, the American Wind Energy Association, “the premier organization representing the interests of America’s wind energy industry.”
But what concerns and confuses me is how we get our arms around exactly how much of the US Taxpayer’s investment in these companies actually gets back to US Taxpayers.
For example, let’s go back to Mr. Alonzo. Beyond his role heading the Board of the wind industry lobby, he is also listed as Chief Executive Officer of EDP Renewables North America LLC (EDPR NA). If I read it right, the EDP NA which Mr. Alonzo leads is the North American division of EDP Renewables (Euronext: EDPR), a self-described global renewable energy company. Global EDP Renewables then, is a component of Energias de Portugal, S.A. (“EDP”), which describes itself as a vertically-integrated utility company, headquartered in Lisbon, Portugal, and the majority shareholder of EDP Renewables of which the North American group is a part. Is this making sense?
Anyway, there’s nothing necessarily wrong with all this. And frankly, that’s not my point.
Rather, I use this example to illustrate how assessing the true impact of the EXPIRE Act, a seemingly simple “mom and apple pie” patch-work quilt of fixes to a cumbersome tax code, is far more complicated than we Taxpayers are led to believe. Heck, I wouldn’t be surprised to find that the very politicians who are thrilled to hand Taxpayer money to these companies don’t fully understand the consequences of their actions. But then, maybe we haven’t really challenged them to do so, have we!
We too often let them off the hook, falling for their blubber about jobs and green and mom and apple pie. And we’re obviously satisfied with that nonsense … after all, we do keep sending them back!
But, if you are as confused as I am, maybe you could contact your Congress and Senate Representatives, who are expected to vote on this legislation, to help you understand. Ask them specifically what return you can expect to see for your hard-earned tax dollar investment in these for-profit businesses.
I guarantee Mr. Alonzo is expected to account for every dollar which moves in and out of his company. If not, he’ll be replaced. Why then should we not ask the politicians so eager to hand out your hard-earned cash to do the same?
Oh … if your Representatives tell you that it’s all too complicated and all they can promise is “apple pie” … tell them you want your damned money back!