President Barack Obama stated the cost of wind power has dropped below that of natural gas, nuclear energy and other conventional sources during his last State of the Union address Tuesday.
“Seven years ago, we made the single biggest investment in clean energy in our history. Here are the results. In fields from Iowa to Texas, wind power is now cheaper than dirtier, conventional power,” Obama said. “On rooftops from Arizona to New York, solar is saving Americans tens of millions of dollars a year on their energy bills.”
The price of wind power has declined by 90 percent since 1980 as more turbines were installed with the help of subsidies. Proponents of wind power frequently cite this drop in price as a great accomplishment. However, electricity from new wind farms is still three times more expensive than power generated from existing conventional power plants and four times more expensive than power from nuclear reactors.
Wind power has been heavily subsidized since the 1980s and still gets 69 times more in subsidies than coal, oil, and natural gas per amount of energy generated.
In a recent budget proposal, Obama tried to make a major subsidy for wind power permanent. The Congressional Budget Office has previously estimated that a one-year extension of the subsidy would cost taxpayers $12 billion. The Department of Energy says it wants wind power to provide 20 percent of all American electricity by 2030.
The table below shows the amount of subsidies given to various forms of energy based on 2013 Department of Energy data collected by Forbes.
Green energy in the U.S. got $13 billion in subsidies during 2013, compared to $3.4 billion in subsidies for conventional sources and $1.7 billion for nuclear, according to data from the Energy Information Administration.
Congress been increasing subsidies for green energy as well. In 1999, green subsides were a mere 17 percent of total subsidies. By 2007 that rose to 29 percent. Over the same time period, natural gas and petroleum-related subsidies declined from 25 percent to 13 percent of total subsidies, according to the Institute for Energy Research. Solar subsides are so high even the companies which benefit are turning against them.
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