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Guest Column

December 8, 2012

The reality of renewable energy sources


Not in Realville. Aside from the extra costs to consumers and taxpayers, renewables fall short in the societal benefit of job creation. Promise 700,000 jobs; deliver 28,854 (Bloomberg’s Businessweek.)

But that doesn’t mean nobody makes money. Al Gore is doing fine, with a net worth of $100 million, thanks to $2.5 billion in loans, grants, and tax breaks in his save-the-earth businesses (Washington Post.) And billionaire Obama campaign contributor and bundler George Kaiser continues to feed off the corpse of Solyndra with over $350 million worth of tax credits and tax-loss carry-forwards. The Treasury, subordinated to Mr. Kaiser‘s interests, takes a bath for about half a billion dollars (Wall Street Journal.) The Hoover Institute estimates 80% of the “green” companies receiving Department of Energy backing were run or primarily owned by fat cat financiers with political connections.

With the threat of these kinds of subsidies and sweetheart deals disappearing, it’s no wonder the Barnums of Big Wind and Big Sun are hunkering down for the long haul. We‘re talking serious money here.

Some day renewables may replace significant amounts of carbon-based energy. Federal dollars would be well spent on basic research to that end. However, it shouldn’t be spent on companies that haven’t figured out what customers want and can’t deliver a product at a profit without financial life support. It shouldn’t be spent on the favored few who are guided through the bureaucratic regulatory maze to a Promised Land where start-up costs are covered, future sales are guaranteed, and competition is squelched. This kind of business model leads to complacency, obsolescence, and cynicism.

Deep Throat had it right. Follow the money. Big Wind and Big Solar aren’t going down without a fight. Hang on, folks, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

DICK DOWNEY is an Otego resident and a member of the Unatego Area Landowners Association.

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