When Republicans emerged as the winners in November's election, the renewable energy industry wondered whether the shift in political power would lead to policies unfavorable to their businesses' growth. Well, here's one clue that the industry might have to fight a bit harder to get government support: The Wall Street Journal ran an op-ed piece Monday that branded a clean power grant program that received a 1-year extension last week as "green pork."
The Op-ed states that the grant program is inefficient and therefore a costly way to boost the country's electricity production and job market. In addition, the article said the program should be trimmed out via Republican budget deliberations.
The editorial targeted mainly the wind industry, which it noted had added fewer megawatts of generation capacity for the first nine months of this year than it did in corresponding periods in 2008 and 2009.
The editorial also concluded that solar energy also isn't a good public investment:
Given this level of inefficiency, it's no wonder that wind and solar energy require at least 20 times more in government subsidies per unit of electricity generated than the average for coal and natural gas, according to a 2007 study by the Energy Information Administration.
It's no secret that renewable electricity costs more to produce, but its costs alone aren't the only measure of its worth. The U.S. is one of the world's top emitters of greenhouse gas emissions, and the country is under pressure to do much more to reduce them. Installing renewable energy is a big step toward achieving that goal. Cleaner energy also means cleaner air quality, which provides tremendous public health benefits.
Wind and solar industry trade groups worked together on lobbying for the extension of the grant program, which covers 30 percent of the costs of renewable energy projects (not just solar and wind, but also other forms of renewable electricity). Wind projects have received some of the largest awards from the grant program.