U.S. Wind Industry: Turbine Construction Won't Be Domestic

The wind industry is showing increasing signs of desperation as some unpleasant realities are emerging despite the unending propaganda storm from the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA).

Not only has it come out that Big Wind lobbied (and helped produce!) a report from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory that slagged a Spanish study showing the epic failure of wind economics in Spain, but now, wind energy executives are admitting that they can't obtain parts to build wind plantations unless they're built abroad.

And, showing that hubris knows no bounds, they're also lobbying for the U.S. to up the ante on wind, passing a renewable energy standard that would guarantee wind energy profits into the indefinite future.

Renewables have their place (such as off-grid solar), but the only way to determine what that place is would be through removing subsidies and regulatory mandates from all energy sources and letting the market sort it out.

According to The Hill, wind executives are engaging in a lobbying-flurry on Capitol Hill this week, going after the "Buy American" agenda that Senator Chuck Schumer is pushing with regard to renewable power projects funded with stimulus grants. Schumer has become somewhat agitated to learn that most (79%) of the US stimulus money spent on renewable energy has gone overseas creating manufacturing jobs abroad, but creating little but taxpayer debt here in the U.S.

The Hill quotes Donald Furman, senior vice president with Iberdrola Renewables as admitting that Schumer's buy-American plan "will cause my company not to build the number of projects that it was going to build simply because we can't get the equipment that would satisfy the requirement."

This admission is only surprising because it was made in public. Anyone who knows that China's labor rate is under $1.00 per hour, and that China holds 95% of the rare earth elements needed to produce most renewable energy systems could have told you that manufacturing of renewable equipment is going to happen mostly in China.

A second major focus of the industry lobbying this week is pushing Congress to approve a Renewable Electricity Standard, which would require utilities to supply ever greater amounts of electricity from renewable sources. The windmongers are pushing for a standard that would require 25 percent renewable energy in the US supply by 2025, a level that is not only more aggressive than existing House and Senate targets, but is almost certainly completely unattainable, and would be both expensive, and detrimental to energy system stability.

All of this comes atop a burgeoning wind power scandal uncovered by Chris Horner of the Competitive Enterprise Institute. Through Freedom of Information requests, Horner has obtained evidence that a report by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory which bashed a high-profile Spanish study of wind power's many failings was ginned up by lobbyists from the AWEA, the Global Wind Energy Council, and the uber-liberal Center for American Progress, all with the cooperation of the EPA, and the DOE.

Renewables have their place (such as off-grid solar), but the only way to determine what that place is would be through removing subsidies and regulatory mandates from all energy sources and letting the market sort it out. Setting that utopian wish aside, it's hard to argue that wind power is a good investment if you have to gin up lame government reports to slam your critics; build your parts in China; subsidize the energy at historic levels; and still have to adopt mandates to force your wind power onto an unwilling market.

Kenneth P. Green is a resident scholar at AEI.

Photo credit: iStockphoto/Stephen Strathdee

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