The thought of generating electricity using the natural power of the sun and wind struck a cord with environmentalists, investors, and legislators about 30 years ago. Federal and state tax dollars poured into the “alternative fuel” industry and laws requiring power companies to purchase the electricity from these sources came out of Washington and state legislatures.
Today the industry is on the ropes because it depended upon “free money.” Without the so-called incentives, these outfits can’t make it pencil out. Natural gas prices are at all time lows and that clean burning fossil fuel is looking better all the time–especially with construction of pipe lines to deliver the energy.
EXERGY, the wind generating firm known for promoting women’s bike races, can’t pay its bills for sponsorships and in a story today the DAILY PAPER‘s Rocky Barker reveals planned projects around Twin Falls are being abandoned.
Earlier in the Week, ASSOCIATED PRESS writer John Miller did a round up of failed or failing solar projects in Idaho. Politicians are first in line to welcome new alternative energy companies to the state, but they shy away when the promises of jobs, prosperity, and clean energy are broken. In Boise the worst example of the alternative fuel scam is the Dynamis so-called trash to energy project that has cost Ada citizens millions of dollars and is doomed to failure.
The problem as we see it is not with the technology, but rather with the corporate welfare system that evolved. There is no doubt fossil fuels pollute and are a finite source of energy, but they are the cheapest we have today and we know how to burn them.
Its naive to create a new industry (solar and wind) through subsidy and tax breaks and require the existing producer to finance it. Sort of like forcing the car manufacturers to buy vehicles from start up competitors instead of producing safer and better autos. Common sense dictates existing electricity producers should be the ones on the wire to alternative fuel.
If it takes government regulatory authority to make the change, so be it. Forcing the purchase of power through PURPA deals simply fractures the foundation of a national power grid while encouraging corporate welfare. A uniform national power policy–without hidden payoffs– is the answer.
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