Tilting at Wind Turbines—Should the Government Subsidize Renewable Energy?


Switching from conventional sources of electricity like coal and natural gas to renewables like wind and solar, our elected leaders tell us, will reduce pollution, advance renewable technology and spark a green jobs revolution.

Is renewable energy really a green pathway to a brighter economic future? Or is it nothing more than a heavily subsidized impossible dream?

To learn more, we spoke with Cal State Fullerton economist Robert Michaels and Mark Tholke, an executive at enXco.

Approximately 6.5 minutes.

Produced by Paul Feine and Alex Manning.

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  1. Tilting at Wind Turbines – Should the Government Subsidize Renewable Energy ANYTHING?

    How about NO!

  2. subsidize renewables? yea instead of subsidizing the oil n gas industry who enjoy record profits.

    1. Could someone link to such subsidies. I’m curious.

      1. OhioOrrin and the other economics illiterates miscontrue tax rate reductions as “subsidies.”

        You know, because it’s the government’s money, not the oil companies’.

        Up is down.

        1. its a subsidy relative to business that receives no such breaks. duh

          1. Re: OhioOrrin,

            its a subsidy relative to business that receives no such breaks. duh

            Tony, meet your idiot twin.

            Being robbed less is not receiving a subsidy, nitwit.

      2. Here you go:…..bptax.html…..budget.php

        Don’t attack the sources, read.

        1. NYT: “capital investments like oil field leases and drilling equipment are taxed at an effective rate of 9 percent, significantly lower than the overall rate of 25 percent for businesses in general and lower than virtually any other industry.”
          Tax breaks are *NOT* subsidies, and what’s more is taxing companies simply makes them tax-collectors for the government; the customers pay the tax.
          So it’s not the messenger; you have yet to prove the claim.

          Treehugger: “subsidies for oil and $2.3 billion for coal (both get $70 billion a year in total) ”
          Un-cited assertion in lefty rag is NWS.

    2. IOW you didn’t actually watch the video.

      1. video disabled at work for me.

    3. Oil and gas work, but there should be no susidies for anything.

  3. I’m upset that he didn’t mention what’s going to happen to the TIGERS!

  4. Switching from conventional sources of electricity like coal and natural gas to renewables like wind and solar, our elected leaders tell us, will reduce pollution, advance renewable technology and spark a green jobs revolution.

    Switching from drinking water to drinking water with a bit of LSD in it will make you believe such a thing.

    1. got tomorrows lotto numbers too?

      1. predictions about what will happen in this specific area in the future can’t ever be completely sure, but it’s not the same as guessing at a random number either, and to imply that it isjust shows your dumbness or possibly your lack of sincerity about actually trying to think about it. In general, though, it makes sense that to get a net increase in jobs, there has to be a net increase in societal weath, and how that can come about as a result of forcing decreases in efficiency is a little stupefying. Green energy is more expensive energy so society as a whole loses wealth as a result of adoption. This is going to happen whether we adopt green energy because the government forces us to adopt or whether resources run out, but either way, it won’t be a pretty sight. Of course most people don’t/won’t make that connection because they live under the comforting stupid blanket notion that the rich with their vast pools of unproductive wealth will just pay for everything they want like magic.

    2. I could support that government intervention.

    3. And ya don’t really need the water do ya.
      Just a good hit of acid!
      But I’ll bet you know that already don’t ya Mex.

    4. The shit head libs think employing people doing useless things is good!

  5. Maybe the government should just stop subsidizing fossil fuel energy.

  6. Tax breaks aren’t subsidies, tax breaks are like asking a crook to steal less because you’re short on gas money.

    In fact, since tax breaks lead to more business development which leads to the government collecting more taxes, the crook aka “the government” is better off stealing less.

    Scholarships for White Students – Racist or Fair?…..hy-is.html

    1. Okay, then let’s give renewables the same tax breaks as oil/coal/gas.

      1. Interestingly (at least a few years ago), in terms of output comparison vs dollar subsidy (or eq) comparison, Renewable energies and Non-Renewable energies get about the same subsidy (or eq.).

        However this calculation did not include externalities, risks, magnitude of political influence etc.

  7. Just do a google search for nuclear power subsidies. The fact is that nuclear energy has been subsidized through direct funding, loan guarantees, taxpayer backed insurance, r & d investment and tax breaks. And tax breaks are a form of intervention in the market by the government because the government is deciding who wins and loses but obviously it would be best if there were no taxes or government.

    This is what we should do: Remove all subsidisies for nuclear and say goodbye because without the government you can kiss its free market loser ass goodbye, next give the same gov support to renewables for a good fifty years just like nuclear in the last century, then line them up next to each other and let them go compete on the free market and let the best technology prevail. Here’s a hint to who the winner would be… the conservative fake libertarians at Reason would be very disappointed.

    1. If nuclear subsidies were discontinued AND the bullshit regulatory hoops were gone, nuclear might prevail. You know, since it has the highest energy density. If your undefined “alternatives” were productive, they wouldn’t need subsidies. Now fuck off.

      1. Did you read the news today? Or are you so stupid that you would make a comment like this today anyway?

        In case you didn’t read the news:


        TOKYO ? Japanese nuclear officials say radiation levels inside a nuclear power plant have surged to 1,000 times their normal levels after the cooling system failed in the wake of the tsunami unleashed by Japan’s biggest recorded earthquake.

        Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Saturday that the temperatures of its No.1 and No.2 reactors at the plant in question, called the Fukushima Daini nuclear power station are rising, and it has lost control over pressure in the reactors, according to Dow Jones Newswire.

        The Los Angeles Times reported this afternoon that officials fear a nuclear meltdown.

      2. It’s looks like maybe you posted before the news. Anyway, I guess you’re regretting that comment today if you aren’t a moron.

        1. So this is in some way worse than the 1000’s of coal miners that die or are injured every year (although the majority of them in china)? Or the casualties related to petrol extraction both in foreign countries (and recently our own coasts)?

          I don’t see anything here that shows a strong detraction from nuclear.

  8. This anarchist sees a couple important points that should be added. In terms of “subsidies” they didn’t include the trillions of dollars in wars, “defense” spending, and blowback effects of an oil empire. These are massive subsidies, even if hard to measure per barrel.

    Next, renewable energy should be viewed in a centralist vs. decentralist perspective. No, centralized renewable energy production is not competitive, but decentralized off grid (anti-grid or post-grid) production is already a much better return on investment risk than the stock market, even where/if there are no subsidies.

    1. “decentralized off grid (anti-grid or post-grid) production is already a much better return on investment risk than the stock market, even where/if there are no subsidies.”

      Cite please?
      If so, it won’t take the government to ‘help’ us.

    2. The “grid” is pretty much irrelevant to your oil subsidies. And subsidies isn’t really the right word for those things.

      1. Hence why he put it as “subsidies.” He means externalities but he’s still on point.

  9. There may be a 6 year old out there that will discover a game changer….but it is a damn slim chance it is a girl. Nice touchy-feely, PC comment though!

  10. I find it odd that the economist failed to account for externalities in his comparison of subsidies. Include the externalities (human health effects, environmental effects, etc.) and see what the true costs of the varius energy sources are.

    1. You beat me to it. You are dead on.

  11. Should we consider the costs of the military -social – political expenses we incur propping up countries such as Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Nigeria, etc. as a subsidy?

    1. Exactly, if not a subsidy at least an externality. Until externalities are properly accounted for it’s going to remain status quo and the uninformed will continue to think that “drill baby drill” and “frac baby frac” will be the solution to keeping the cost of our poor choice of energy source artificially low.

  12. I think this is one of the few things government *should* be doing – leading the nation in long-term projects that business is not suited to. I know it’s unlikely they won’t do a greatest job with this, but at least they’ll kick-start the industry with public money.

    Think of where we want to be in 200 years time and how we get there, not just how I can get the cheapest fuel bills today. Do we really still want to be trashing the planet and fighting in the Middle East because it’s the way to get the cheapest energy, or do we want to distance ourselves from such short termism?

  13. “Alternative energy” simply doesn’t work. Sure it sounds great, solar power will save the polar bears man! But once you look at the numbers, it just doesn’t make sense.


  14. awesome. your post is great. its worth reading. thank you.

  15. Film is a different medium than print. Rather than characters making speeches, Rand’s philosophy ought to be shown via the characters doing something interesting.

  16. Whoa…since when did you guys start doing game commentary?

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