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Editorial: Rove, Capps agree on need for wind energy

By   /   Friday, June 8th, 2012  /   5 Comments

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The region’s once-promising wind energy industry has seen its share of troubles lately.

But it has found an unlikely ally in the form of former White House advisor Karl Rove.

In a rare display of bipartisanship, Rove, generally recognized as the architect of President George W. Bush’s campaigns,  joined Robert Gibbs, a key confidant of President Barack Obama in advancing the cause of a tax credit for wind power development.

In a presentation before the American Wind Power Association’s annual meeting, Rove said:  “We need conservative Republicans who can say, ‘This means jobs to my district,’ … and we need Democrats to say, ‘This is a way to expand the range of options that we have in this country for energy.’ ”

As reported in the Business Times’ online edition last month, U.S. Rep. Lois Capps, a Santa Barbara Democrat, indicated her support for the 2.2 cent per kilowatt-hour tax break that has vaulted wind production into one of the most popular forms of new energy installation.  The tax break also applies to geothermal, biomass and landfill gas plants; at last count about 100 members of Congress, including representatives from both parties, had signed on to a bill granting an extension.

People like Matt Riley of Infinity Wind Power, a consulting firm on the South Coast, say that unless the credits are extended until 2016 the industry will shut down, costing tens of thousands of jobs nationwide. Riley has two projects in development in Kansas that will serve up to 100,000 homes.

Meanwhile, companies such as Clipper Windpower, with headquarters in Carpinteria, face an uncertain future without the tax breaks. That’s because United Technologies is in the process of selling Clipper and without certainty about pricing in the U.S. market it may not be marketable to another U.S. concern.

Add to that the fact that Camarillo-based Power-One has a substantial business providing inverters to the wind turbine industry and you can see the stakes for our area are not small. Indeed, with tax credits in place a number of area agribusinesses may want to take a plunge on smaller scale wind projects; many experts  believe that four more years of tax credits should suffice to make wind competitive with conventional power—absent a total and extended collapse in the price of oil and natural gas.

Cynics will wonder what  would motivate Rove, a Fox News commentator with sterling conservative credentials, to support what amounts to a government subsidy.  But in this case, the tax credits already have been in place and they are rather small.

Having a predictable policy that moves wind power into the competitive mainstream seems like a sensible way to go. If Rove can ride to the rescue of the wind power tax credit, the Central Coast will benefit.

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5 Comments

  1. Neil Baker says:

    To Miguel and Tiff: The basis of both your arguments is the unproven fear mongering of the “sky is falling” propaganda foisted by the green energy lobbiests. Wind and solar can’t power American industry or modern American lifestyles. It’s intermittent and so diffuse that massive acreage in addtion to massive amounts of non-green concrete is required for it. Because of its intermittency, fossil fuel powerplants serving as backup are required anyway and their periodic use simply makes them more expensive to operate. For off-grid applications, solar or wind are excellent options. Green energy companies are also guilty of misrepresenting the costs of their products and installations. Seldom is the cost of real estate included. Seldom is the cost of the anchoring concrete included. The density of energy contained in coal, gas, oil and nuclear is the source of its abilty to generate abundant wealth. We as a nation are affluent mainly to the extent we can exploit the high concentration of our best energy sources. Solar and wind are pipe dreams because they are unviably diffuse sources. Any government money normally used as a subsidy for green energy would be better spent on research for cleaner extraction, use and environmental remediation processes of already proven high concentration energy sources. The difference between 300ppm and 400 ppm CO2 is a negligible joke.
    Again, school nurses, propagandists and lawyers should get out of politics. Our modern American state requires mostly engineers and business leaders for its wise management.

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  2. Without this Production Tax Credit, the wind energy industry will suffer greatly. This is catastrophic for the implications of climate change. Fact: fossil fuels have been subsidized by the feds for over 90 years. The Government Accountability Office determined that fossil fuels received five times as much tax incentives as renewables between the years of 2002 and 2007 ($13.7 billion for fossil fuels and $2.8 billion for renewables). Not to mention the extra cost that fossil fusel wreak on Americans’ health (estimated to cost us $120 billion in health bills annually, according to the National Academy’s of Science National Research Council, 2010).

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  3. Miguel Checa L. says:

    The “matter of substance” is that the concentration of CO2 in our atmosphere is now around 400 ppm–when global climate scientists agree that the safe level ought to be 350 ppm. Before the industrial revolution it was around 300 ppm. Ignorance of these basic numbers are pointing toward massive alterations to the biosphere as we know it. Reason would point toward protecting our “home” by reducing all uses of fossil “dead” matter and switching to massive deployment of only renewable, clean, and safe sources of abundant power. WERE IS THE EDIT FUNCTION???!!!! I meant “Igtnorance of these basic numers is….”

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  4. Neil Baker says:

    Where’s the edit key?
    Of course, “no nothing” should be “know nothing.”
    Please pardon me.

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  5. Neil Baker says:

    If either former school nurse Lois Capps or former propaganda minister Karl Rove were engineers, they would be in violation of the Engineer’s Code of Ethics that prohibits publicly pontificating on engineering subjects for which they lack expertise. They are, however, well paid by the wind energy lobby, to serve as obedient shills in support of the continuation of wind energy subsidies.
    Were independent professional engineering experts asked to render judgement on the wisdom of continuing subsidies, it is most probable that they would expose it as a boondoggle fraud detrimental to energy cost, energy quality and energy options.
    Rove and Capps no nothing of substance and their support for wind energy subsidies exposes the liability to taxpayers of their prolonged ignorant and corrupt political power.

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