Subsidy Games

Kansas Watchdog’s Travis Perry opens his commentary, Not so fast: Siemens still wants wind subsidies,  with this gem:  “Siemens Wind Power looks forward to a future where wind can compete without subsidies from the federal government … But not just yet.”

Good stuff … and it got me thinking.

Click the link to take a look at the Siemens US Energy web page.  Impressive, huh?  Is there anything they can’t do?  Siemens, a German based multi-billion dollar company actually describes itself as a “global powerhouse in electrical engineering and electronics” with some 370,000 employees (as of September 30, 2012).  And yet, they need a bit of financial help from little old me.

Here’s what if find amusing about these companies … they portray themselves to investors and their clients as financially strong and yet, would have us – consumers and taxpayers – believe they’re working out of a garage on a shoe string budget.  Borrowing a line from John Fogerty’s classic – Fortunate Son

“Some folks are born silver spoon in hand,

Lord, don’t they help themselves, oh.

But when the taxman comes to the door,

Lord, the house looks like a rummage sale, yes”

I find it stunning that, while holding out its tin cup for renewable subsidies, “Mother” Siemens also touts an offspring to cover all your fossil fuel needs.  In fact, Siemens wants to be “your partner in fossil power generation,” and believes that “fossil power plants will continue to contribute significantly to a needs-oriented power supply” and that fossil plants actually “form the basis of a working energy mix, which is indispensable for meeting the major challenges of today and tomorrow.”

Curiously, Siemens states on their Renewable Energy page that “ever since the beginning of time, the wind, the sun and water have provided infinite potential for sustainable energy.  Why wait before we put them to good use?”

Why wait, indeed!  A lot of folks who believe fossil fuel usage must be severely reduced might think that a darn good question!  Why would Siemens continue to promote the future of fossil fuel buy naming it “the basis of a working energy mix, which is indispensable for meeting the major challenges of today and tomorrow,” yet ask, regarding the move to a sustainable energy future, “why wait?”  It certainly couldn’t have anything to do with the ability to double dip into taxpayer and consumer bank accounts, could it?

Folks on the other side of the debate think maybe industrial wind is simply not all it’s cracked up to be.  They fear industrial wind simply cannot replace fossil fueled plants to any large extent and ultimately, is simply another layer of activities these large companies can utilize to bilk customers and taxpayers of their hard earned cash.  This possibly seems confirmed by the demand that energy producers be paid even if the electricity they generate is not used by the consumers and taxpayers who foot the bill.

Bottom line is that, as far as I know and apparently not disputed by the industry – except in a lot of woulda, shoulda and coulda commentary – there is no evidence that a single fossil fueled power plant has been dismantled due to the thousands of wind turbines installed over the past decades.  Natural gas, another fossil fueled on-demand generator, is kicking coal fired generators rear ends for sure, but the unreliable wind cannot and, some speculate, actually increases the demand for fossil fuel usage due to ramping issues.  Again, I’m happy to be proven wrong.

Not to single out Siemens … oil giants BP and Shell and many fossil fuel invested companies are happy to promote their “green” credentials.  And heck, with all that cash rolling around out there, what’s the incentive for these profit based companies to close down one market when they can take financial advantage of all product lines, aka the ever popular – “all of the above approach to energy.”

My frustration stems from the marketing gimmickry employed by corporations and politicians who, on the one hand, express deep concern for our environment while the other hand is in our pockets.

In my humble opinion, there is no serious push to the “energy of the future” because there is too much money to be made hawking the energy of today, and the money is directed at the whim of politicians all too willing to pay back supporters.

Industrial wind, as an energy producing concept, is as ancient as burning coal – except you have to wait for the wind and, while you’re waiting for the wind to show up, you burn coal or natural gas to keep the lights on.

Nuclear energy, as we currently know it, has it’s drawbacks, but the resource should not be forever dismissed, as some would suggest.  Again, was it the desire to secure votes that prompted on of our political elders to push the “wrong” method?

I believe there are answers lurking in the halls of research.  But, it seems to me, as long as we continue to use our ever-scarcer dollars to subsidize what we know at the expense of what could be, we will continue to fumble along in the hope of making what we know doesn’t work – work.  As long as we taxpayers and consumers are willing to pay companies such as Siemens, BP, Shell and my personal favorite – Edison Mission Energy directly or through their LLC stepchildren for pretending to replace fossil fuels with renewables, we will never see progress.

As far as subsidies, I find it hard to justify permitting politicians to fund any profit-based businesses with our tax dollars.  The whole political/industrial circular cash flow scenario is just too tempting.  Of course, the politicians who represent me are stellar individuals, it’s all the other politicians I worry about.

Oh, and by the way … check out opposing views on wind subsidies at the Post Crescent:

End subsidies for wind power? No

End subsidies for wind power? Yes

As always, your comments and criticisms are welcomed.

This entry was posted in Alternative Energy, industrial wind v fossil fuel, Renewable energy debate and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Subsidy Games

  1. Pingback: Thorium reactors – worth another peek? | Allegheny Treasures

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