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Friday, April 19, 2013

Misleading GAO Report on Wind Energy Policies: GAO FAIL!

by Gabriel Eisner, April 15, 2013, from multiple sources

1. GAO did a terrible/sloppy job on the report

The GAO failed. There’s no other way to say it: it’s shocking that the GAO would risk its credibility with such a deeply flawed product that:

 ·   Suggests there are 82 programs while ignoring the fact that only two are truly wind-specific
·   Counts six programs that are actually expired, and dozens that rarely or never financially supported wind energy, or are regulatory in nature.
·   Counts some initiatives twice, or more
·   Presents initiatives as “wind-only” when 41 of 82 also benefit fossil fuels or nuclear energy, or have an analogous initiative in that department or agency
·   Couldn’t be bothered taking into account that the biggest potential for supposed program “duplication” identified by GAO was relevant less than 1% of the time. (See footnote)

This is more like an Alice in Wonderland chapter than a study. Other than those minor problems, this study is a masterpiece.

As the report confirms, virtually all the value is in a single remaining program, the Production Tax Credit. Other forms of energy have far more programs that overlap.

2. Competing forms of energy are misusing the report

Front groups funded by competing forms of energy are misusing the GAO report in an unfair attempt to discredit wind energy and its one primary incentive, the Production Tax Credit.

Other witnesses at Tuesday’s hearing are with known front groups for the Koch brothers, among the world’s biggest coal traders, who have mounted an ill-spirited campaign against wind energy for competitive and ideological reasons:

·      Robert Michaels, professor of economics, Mihaylo College of Business and Economics, California State University, Fullerton, is a senior fellow at the Institute for Energy Research (IER) which is funded by Koch Industries money and led by former Koch Industries lobbyists.
·      Audra Parker, president and CEO, Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, has taken funding from Bill Koch and other competing energy interests, as Koch himself confirms in his interview this month with CommonWealth magazine.

3. Wind is a good deal for America: Nothing in this report changes that. Wind energy is:

•       Boosting the U.S. economy with up to $25 billion a year in private investment;
•       Helping consumers with billions of dollars in projected savings on their electric bills;
•       Protecting the environment, already avoiding 4% of the carbon dioxide emissions of the U.S. electric power sector, saving 120 gallons of water
•       a year for each person in America versus other forms of energy, and emitting no air pollution; and
•       Ahead of schedule to make 20% of America’s electricity by 2030.
That's why 71% of Americans say they want more of it.

For example: (1) Of the Bureau of Reclamation Programs cited, one of them does not appear to have funded a single project related to wind and the other funded only two from 2005-2011.  (2) Of the 275 ARPA-E projects, only 16 are cited by the agency as wind-related, and of those, 11 are actually on magnets, which have limited relevance for wind.  (3) The various smart grid and storage initiatives mentioned are not particularly relevant to wind energy.

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