Job losses from coal dwarf gains from wind

11-Aug-2015

As the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) threatens to shut down vast amounts of coal power plants, the federal government continues to shower renewable energy producers with billions of dollars in subsidies and tax incentives. Despite claims from the wind industry itself that is it now cost competitive, Senator Grassley (R–IA) recently sent a letter to Senator Hatch (R-UT), Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, urging him to extend the Production Tax Credit (PTC) – a multi-billion dollar subsidy for wind power – largely on the basis of alleged job creation.

We have discussed the grid reliability problems and high costs associated with shutting down reliable power plants and attempting to replace them with intermittent wind power, but we have not recently addressed arguments about jobs amid this dynamic. Senator Grassley wrote that the wind energy industry supports 6000 jobs in Iowa and 73 000 jobs nationally and claims that the PTC ‘s expiration would “pull the rug out from under domestic renewable energy producers”. This is simply inaccurate and perpetuates the myth that subsidising wind turbines, while shutting down existing power plants, will be a net-job creator.

The EPA’s regulation of CO2 emissions from power plants highlights the job-killing transition proposed by the administration. This carbon agenda, which the administration’s public relations team calls the “Clean Power Plan”, threatens to tear down the existing electricity generation infrastructure in the name of CO2 emissions. This carbon agenda will magnify the market-distorting subsidies from the PTC – contributing to an estimated peak of one million job losses – will drain hundreds of billions of dollars from American families through increased energy bills and will threaten the electric grid by rapidly switching from reliable to intermittent sources of electricity. Further, electricity from new wind energy sources is nearly three times more expensive than electricity from existing coal-fired plants. (by Mathew Sabas, World Coal)