Appetite for federal money has grown

The Gazette Opinion Staff
Published: January 7 2013 | 11:38 am - Updated: 28 March 2014 | 9:42 am in

Twenty years ago, Congress decided that it would be a good idea for our federal government to finance wind power as an alternative source of energy with the idea that it would eventually be able to compete with other sources without subsidy. The result has been a huge increase in energy from that source. As this albatross has grown, its appetite for federal money has grown to such an extent that Congress provided it with $12 billion in the fiscal cliff bill just signed.

In this era of huge annual federal deficits and a humongous government debt, the problem has resulted in a bit of a fog concerning what these numbers represent. Some simple arithmetic may help bring to light the magnitude of what this annual subsidy represents.

With about 70,000 windmills producing energy in this country, this amounts to an annual federal subsidy of about $170,000 per windmill to make them competitive with other sources.

Using a different comparison, the average annual cost of electricity is about $510 per capita. In this case, this $12 billion would pay the complete electric bill for the year for all the 23 million people in Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Arkansas, Nebraska and Kansas.

All this for a little over 3 percent of the electricity produced in this country.

Dick Roggensack

Waukon

 

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