In a recent editorial, the head of the Sierra Club and the president of the United Steelworkers Union made two claims that I am compelled to address. First, that taking money from Kansans and giving it to Washington, D.C. to prop up the wind energy industry is actually a success story. Second, these liberal spokesmen asserted that Kansans and the American people support this. Neither could be further from the truth.
While the authors brag about the massive expansion of wind energy, they fail to account for the cost at which it comes—both to consumers and taxpayers. This growth is not driven by market demand, a claim they don’t even seek to make, but instead through a combination of state mandates and a federal tax credit that is more valuable than the electricity generated. This leads to perhaps the only point on which I agree with them: if an industry loots the U.S. treasury sufficiently, you can make even the most unprofitable business succeed.
But taxpayers don’t just pay once for this subsidy. The Wind PTC actually increases prices. According to the Energy Information Administration, in 9 of the 11 largest wind energy producing states, electricity prices have skyrocketed—rising four times the national average.
That means Kansan’s tax dollars are going towards subsidizing an energy industry that makes them pay more to heat their homes, while at the same time further reducing their after-tax income. This is tantamount to paying the government to raise your electricity costs.
Americans are starting to catch on to this scam. Warren Buffett, a supporter of President Obama, conceded in a May 4th Wall Street Journal article, that for “wind energy, we get a tax credit if we build a lot of wind farms. That's the only reason to build them. They don't make sense without the tax credit.”
After spending record millions of dollars in an attempt to prop up pro-“green energy” Democrats this last election cycle, the Sierra Club and its union partners should pay attention to the results: the American people rejected their big spending agenda and supported candidates willing to end wasteful government handouts.
The Obama administration and its allies claim that wind jobs are dependent on this massive government handout. If true, that means that after 20 years of handouts, consumers still reject the wind industry’s product. I happen to believe in wind more than the industry does. I am convinced that hard working Americans – many in Kansas – and talented engineers can find a space for wind to actually provide a product customers are prepared to pay for without any government bribe. But propping up an entire industry while bilking the taxpayer and ratepayer is not the way.
Kansans, like all Americans, love freedom and are willing to work hard creating real and lasting jobs for their families: they just want government to get out of their way, stop picking winners and losers and let them innovate.
The Wind Production Tax Credit has expired. It’s been out of our lives for nearly a year. Why on earth would we bring back this zombie tax favor at the expense of the wage earning families that can afford it the least?
Pompeo has represented Kansas's 4th Congressional District since 2011. He sits on the Energy and Commerce Committee.