Green Energy Subsidies Double Under Obama

(REUTERS/Robert Galbraith)

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Michael Bastasch DCNF Managing Editor
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Taxpayer support for wind, solar and other green energy sources doubled in just three years of President Barack Obama’s time in office.

The Energy Information Administration reports that from 2010 to 2013, the Treasury Department’s spending on its Section 1603 grant program for renewable energy grew from $4.5 billion to $8.2 billion. Tax subsidies for green energy increased from $1.9 billion to $3.8 billion over that time as well.

“No new [Energy Department] loan guarantees were issued in FY 2013,” EIA reports. t”The subsidy cost of the loans issued in FY 2010 totaled $1.7 billion, but this cost is assessed at the time the loan is issued, so there was no subsidy cost for FY 2013. However, there were still outstanding debts in FY 2013 for loans issued in prior years.”

EIA, however, notes that overall energy subsidies declined 25 percent from 2010 to 2013 as stimulus funds dried up, tax incentives for biofuels expired and energy assistance funds were decreased. In 2010, the federal government spent a total of $38 billion on energy subsidies, but by 2013 these subsidies shrank to $29 billion.

Green energy subsidies have played a key role in Obama’s efforts to curb U.S. carbon dioxide emissions to build support for an international agreement on global warming. Aside from piling on regulations on fossil fuel combustion, the administration has spent billions of taxpayer dollars to help green energy companies.

Solar and wind power have been at the backbone of Obama’s effort to push green energy production. Both of these energy sources have received loan guarantees, tax subsidies and grants to make them more mainstream. But solar and wind power combined only made up 4.36 percent of U.S. electricity generation in 2013 — almost all of that came from wind power.

Wind power has been more widely adopted than solar energy, largely because of now-expired tax credits to companies that produce wind power. Wind power is set to replace most of the coal-fired capacity set to retire by the end of this year, according to EIA.

But wind has a problem: it’s an intermittent energy source that depends on the weather. For that reason, utilities and grid operators are reluctant to have wind replace coal, natural gas or nuclear power. States like Texas are expected to lose half their coal-fired power because of EPA regulations, and have warned there could be reliability problems.

“The anticipated retirement of up to half of the existing coal capacity in the ERCOT region will pose challenges to reliable operation of the grid in replacing the dispatchable generation capacity and reliability services provided by these resources,” the Electric Reliability Council of Texas reported last year.

“Integrating new wind and solar resources will increase the challenges of reliably operating all resources, and pose costs to procure additional regulating services, improve forecast accuracy, and address system inertia issues,” ERCOT added.

Not only that, but ERCOT warns electricity costs could drastically rise — as much as 20 percent by 2020.

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