Fact check: Bryce off target on wind power jobs

Fact check: Bryce off target on wind power jobs

Funny, I was just thinking to myself a day or two ago that I hadn't seen anything from Robert Bryce attacking wind for a few weeks, when a new column of his appeared in the National Review, full of the familiar distortions and misrepresentations. It's good to know there are some things in life you can count on.

Mr. Bryce, who works for the fossil-fuel-funded Manhattan Institute, takes aim at the cost of wind jobs, which he reckons by dividing the estimated cost of the federal wind energy Production Tax Credit (PTC) by the number of jobs Navigant Consulting has found are at stake. This is a deceptively simple approach, which omits a number of other side effects of the PTC, such as the local property taxes paid by wind farm operators or the federal and, in some cases, state income taxes paid by those they employ.

The omission is not surprising–it turns out that when you run those numbers, the PTC pays for itself, according to an analysis by NextEra Energy, one of the largest wind farm operators. Oops.

Some other facts that Mr. Bryce overlooks in his research on wind power:

The number of wind farms with federal loan guarantees can be counted on the fingers of one hand.  More than 95 percent of all wind projects have been incentivized by the PTC, which puts no taxpayer money at risk–the tax relief the PTC provides is available only on the basis of electricity produced (hence its name). Also, because it is a tax credit rather than a government outlay, there is no discretion involved and no opportunity for inappropriate influence–if you generate electricity, you qualify for the credit, and the amount is determined by how much electricity you generate.

Wind power provides many benefits above and beyond the new manufacturing jobs it creates.  Those benefits include:

– Breathing new life into the economies of dozens of hard-pressed rural communities across America's heartland, from the shot in the arm that local restaurants and hotels receive when a wind farm is under construction to the long-term land rental payments to farmers and ranchers that give them a new, dependable source of income and allow them to stay on the land.

– Diversifying America's electricity generation portfolio with a new energy resource that uses no fuel and cannot be depleted.

– Protecting electricity ratepayers by providing affordable, stably-priced power over the long term that is not subject to fuel price volatility.

– Attracting up to $20 billion a year in private investment in America's economy.

– Supporting development of a new, clean energy source that emits no pollution and uses virtually no water–a critical advantage in times of extreme drought like the one we are seeing this year.

For all of these compelling reasons, continuing to provide stable, predictable tax policy for America's wind energy industry is just common sense.

Related articles on disinformation from Robert Bryce:

Fact check: On turbine sound, it's Bryce vs. science, July 24, 2012
Big energy companies building wind farms? And that's bad?, June 18, 2012
Fact check: Bryce misleads on land use, wind power's potential, May 30, 2012
Fact check: Bryce missteps on wind and birds, March 8, 2012
Fact check: Bryce bypasses facts, bashes clean energy, February 24, 2012
Fact check: Bryce whopper on land use, January 19, 2012
Are these comments Robert Bryce doesn't want you to see?, December 23, 2011
Fact check: Bryce ignores renewable energy's benefits, attacks companies that make it, suggests they face a tax increase, December 21, 2011
Fact check: Bryce overlooks another convenient truth, December 14, 2011
Fact check: Bryce goes astray on jobs, land use, and more, November 22, 2011
Fact check: Bryce again misinforms on wind costs/benefits, October 20, 2011
Fact check: Bryce errs on incentives, wind's popularity, October 13, 2011
Fact check: Bryce whiffs on wind power and Texas heat wave, August 12, 2011
Robert Bryce, King of the NIMBYs, August 10, 2011
Fact check: Bryce out to lunch with latest anti-wind broadside, August 3, 2011
Fact check: Bryce, Bentek miss on emissions, July 20, 2011
Fact check: Bryce stumbles on land use, sound, steel, benefits, June 8, 2011

Power hungry? Or just on a low-fact diet? (Michael Goggin's review of Robert Bryce's book Power Hungry), July 2, 2010


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