Eighteen freshmen Members of the House of Representatives sent a letter last week to House Republican leaders urging them to “take up an extension of the Production Tax Credit (PTC) for wind energy as soon as possible.” Sixteen of the eighteen signers are Republicans. House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) also recently announced his support for extending the wind PTC, which is set to expire at the end of the year.
The signers of the letter were: Representatives Kristi Noem (R-SD), Rick Berg (R-ND), Tim Griffin (R-Ark.), David Rivera (R-Fla.), Rick Crawford (R-Ark.), Steve Womack (R-Ark.), Chris Gibson (R-NY), Robert Dold (R- Ill.), Jim Renacci (R-Ohio), Michael Fitzpatrick (R-Penna.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Charles Bass (R-NH), Scott Tipton (R-Colo.), Jon Runyan (R-NJ), John Carney (D-Del.), Ann Marie Buerkle (R-NY), David Ciciline (D-RI), and Mark Amodei (R-Nev.).
House Republicans have made a great show of voting to reduce federal spending and of attacking programs that benefit crony capitalists. The letter, which Rep. Noem circulated for signatures, shows how quickly Members of Congress can park their avowed principles at the door when the pork-barrel spending benefits their districts or an industry that provides significant campaign contributions.
This is especially true of the eight Republican signers who are members of the Republican Study Committee, a caucus of conservative Republicans that focuses on reducing federal spending and balancing the budget. The RSC members signing the letter are Noem, Berg, Buerkle, Crawford, Griffin, Gardner, Rivera, and Tipton.
Unlike subsidies intended to reduce costs for consumers, the wind PTC actually increases costs by encouraging the building of more wind farms. Since electricity produced from wind is much more expensive than from conventional sources, every additional wind farm constructed will cause the total costs of generating electricity to go up by more than the 2.3 cents per kilowatt hour subsidy. This does not bother electric utilities because they simply pass the costs on to consumers. While consumers are harmed, investors in wind farms benefit from the federal subsidy combined with state renewable mandates.
As Tom Pyle of the Institute for Energy Research notes in a post here, the sixteen freshmen Republicans would be well advised to consider the defeat of Rep. John Sullivan (R-Okla.) in the June 26 Republican primary election. Sullivan’s opponent, Jim Bridenstine, attacked Sullivan for championing another federal boondoggle, the NAT GAS Act, which would provide huge subsidies to businesses owned by Oklahoma native T. Boone Pickens. The Tulsa World reported that during a debate between the two candidates, the only issue they disagreed about was this federal boondoggle.