As many of you know, on February 1st, the Post and Mail published a front-page story that was heavily biased towards the proposed industrial wind turbine installation in Whitley County. It portrayed the three primary benefactors of the project as “second-class citizens” who were being deprived of the use of their land.
Whitley County Patriots is opposed to industrial wind energy due to the incredible about of tax subsidies and abatements that must be poured into it to make wind energy viable. We took offense to the blatant use of the newspaper’s resources to plaster an OPINION all over the front page, and make it look like NEWS.
This is our official response. This article was printed on the opinion page of the Post and Mail on February 8th.
Winners and losers…
Whitley County Patriots would like to respond to the article “A reasonable permit” published as the headline story in the Post and Mail on February 1, 2012, in which three Whitley County farmers were given this newspaper’s resources to put forward their point of view supporting the proposed industrial wind turbine project in southern Whitley County.
What’s the difference between Obama giving your tax money to Solyndra and giving your tax money to Wind Capital? One made solar panels, and one erects wind turbines. One filed bankruptcy (Solyndra), and one company (NTR PLC., parent of Wind Capital) currently has a stock price of 0.30 Euro. In America, we call that a “penny stock”. I don’t know what a Euro penny is called, do you? In America, this stock would get delisted from both NYSE and NASDAQ.
Have you heard that it is a right-wing agenda that prevents wind turbines from operating at 100%? Republicans have been accused of killing asthmatics with pollution from coal-fired generators by keeping the wind from blowing 400 feet from ground level. I guess Mother Nature must be a Republican.
Before government can give money to anyone, it must take money from everyone in the form of taxes. It really doesn’t grow on trees. When did it become the job of government to pick winners and losers? By giving our tax money to greedy corporate farmers, government is making them winners, while making the rest of us losers. We losers keep on emptying our pockets for the winners. Mr. Sickafoose says that “the farmers got screwed.” Who is really getting screwed?
These so-called “wind-farmers” already receive millions of dollars from the USDA as farm subsidies. Why do we need to give them more money to farm wind? It seems like they are farming more in tax subsidies than agriculture.
Wind-created electricity is the most expensive power available. It’s a shame that the REMC can’t buy that high-priced electricity, eliminate the need for coal-fired plants, and triple the electric bills of these “Solyndras of agriculture” without also tripling the bills of us losers. Are the “winners” going to help with the “green power” electric bills they helped to create?
Aren’t our elected Commissioners and appointed Plan Commission supposed to consider the “quality of life” impact of their decisions for the entire county, not just the special interests? Is the Plan Commission supposed to pick the winners and losers for Whitley County? How can they justify creating 150 winners, while creating 33,000 losers? Maybe they need to hear the voices of more potential losers.
Why is wind energy so important? Has anyone named an economic benefit from wind energy? Our farming friends claim it to be in the form of lease payment windfalls, tax revenue, and lower tax rates for all. These are nothing more than the money moving from losers to winners. Economic benefits are realized when a product is produced at a profit. There is no economic benefit when government forces consumers to pay inflated prices to the winners.
Let’s talk about the Whitley County budget. When you look at the 10-year numbers in the Umbaugh report, you will find that the total “windfall” from this project is actually less than 1.5% of the current county budget. How can we say that Whitley County will collect that revenue when the “facts” that went into the report came directly from Wind Capital? Even if we assume the numbers are good, just five new $250,000 homes each year in Jefferson Township will have a larger impact on county revenue. It’s a crying shame that nobody builds those kinds of homes in the middle of an industrial wind installation. It’s also a shame that the falling property values in the area will destroy any hope of lowering the property tax rates for us losers.
Mr. Reiff and Mr. Trier claim that the county is “confiscating 1,500 feet” of their property from “future economic development.” This is simply a case of a new shoe being on the winners’ feet rather than the losers. Were this boondoggle project to be allowed to continue, the winners would lose no sleep over the casting of shadows, throwing of ice, and sweeping noise onto the property of the losers to whom they sold a home parcel a few years ago.
Government has been taking control over land and labor for years. Now, when the winners are at the pointy end of the stick, they cry “foul”. I haven’t heard of any farmers coming to the aid of the landlord in Ogden Dunes who was fined $40,000 for renting his single-family home to a single family.
In closing, I don’t see any difference between one who says “I’m not too proud of my county”, and one who says “I have never been proud of my country.”
So, winners and losers, what good are 16 miles of new roads that dead end at wind turbines?
Whitley County Patriots
This letter comes to us from Lisa Linowes, Executive Director and spokesperson for the Industrial Wind Action (IWA) Group:
Hi Everyone –
Special thanks to all of you for the fantastic response received on the letter sent to Congress. Over 1600 names were collected from 25 different states. The list of participating states is below. My contact on Capitol Hill has informed me that the letters were impacting arriving at the right time. The message was clear that regular people were watching the House and that a price would be paid if they supported any extension to the Section 1603 cash grant program.
Participating States: Arizona California Georgia Hawaii Idaho Illinois Indiana Kansas Maine Maryland Massachusetts Michigan Minnesota Nevada New Hampshire New Jersey New York Ohio Pennsylvania South Carolina Vermont Virginia Washington West Virginia Wisconsin
And for the very good news … The Senate was UNABLE to attach an extension of Section 1603 or the production tax credit to the version of the payroll tax bill voted on today. The bill goes back to the House on Monday where it will almost certainly pass. We know the House and Senate will be back at this after the new year. So we must remain vigilant.
But for now, AWEA gets a lump of coal from the American Taxpayers.
I will be back in touch in the coming weeks with information on how to approach the next round.
Thank you everyone! Have a wonderful and safe holiday. Please email if you have questions or wish to have a copy of the letter sent from your state or any of the others.
(PS: Please share this letter with others. Thanks!)
Joan Null sent us this opportunity to help END wind subsidy 1603 grants…
WCCC has been asked by Lisa Linowes, Executive Director of Industrial Wind Action Group, to take part in a national campaign to send the letter below to Congress asking that Section 1603 grants be allowed to expire. The 1603 grants are one of the main subsidies available to wind developers, and wind lobbyists are pushing for a 4 year extension.
If you would be willing to co-sign this letter - just send your name and address to Lisa Linowes at firstname.lastname@example.org and say “include my name on the 1603 letter”. Please also include the name of the congressman from your district. For Whitley County residents that is Marlin Stutzman.
IMPORTANT - send your name and address ASAP (by Monday if possible) as they are pushing for a vote before the holidays.
Help us cut government subsidies for big wind – thanks so much!
Joan Null, WCCC
Rep. Marlin Stutzman
US House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Representative(s) Stutzman,
As residents of Indiana we urge you to vote NO on any further extensions of Section 1603 grants due to expire this year.
While the goal of Section 1603 is to increase the use of renewable energy, including utility-scale wind, the high costs and limitations of this program cannot be ignored.
High Cost: Eighty-percent of the $9.8 billion in Section 1603 cash grants went to wind energy developers. This represents a more than 10-fold increase in federal subsidies to the industry over what it received prior to the program’s adoption. As an open-ended subsidy there are insufficient safeguards for taxpayers. Since the grants are not made public until projects are placed in service, taxpayers will not know the true cost of 1603 until 2013 or later. Total outlays for wind alone could reach nearly $20 billion with no extension.
Exaggerated Job Claims: It takes only 0.1 jobs per megawatt to operate a wind facility. Of the 12.3 gigawatts installed with 1603 funds, only about 1200 permanent jobs were created. Most of the 75,000 jobs claimed by the industry are temporary construction positions. Many of the manufacturing plants/jobs cited by wind industry proponents build components for industrial uses and are not wind-specific.
No production accountability: The Treasury assumes that 1603-funded wind projects operate with a 30% capacity factor (that is, produce 30% of the projects’ potential production levels) but many projects do not meet this assumption. Five wind facilities in New York, for example, received $300 million in grants and operated 25% BELOW this level in 2010. Section 1603 imposes no performance criteria, and imposes no penalty for projects that under-perform or do not meet developers’ claims. This lack of accountability shifts performance risks to taxpayers.
Inflated Turbine Pricing: Upfront cash grants provide minimal incentive to negotiate lower prices with suppliers. In fact, the higher the capital costs the greater the 1603 grants. With turbines representing 55+% of project costs, manufacturers are encouraged to keep prices high.
There are cheaper, more effective opportunities for achieving clean energy goals that will also help the economy. Direct cash outlays go in the wrong direction by rewarding higher construction costs, higher energy pricing, and marginal to poor performance. It’s time for Section 1603 grants to expire.