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A Look at Wind and Money

I read a comment last week that said wind energy was so much more altruistic than oil. These companies care about future generations, unlike Big Oil, which gets government subsidies and won’t “pay it’s fair share”.

Is that true? Certainly not for the biggest wind energy companies. Many utility companies have negative tax rates (from Mother Jones news):

Company Earnings Tax Rate

GE 19.6 billion -18.9%

NextEra 8.8 billion – 2.0%

Pacific Gas and Electric 8.2 billion – 8.4%

Apache (oil and gas) 6 billion – .3%

Consolidated Edison 5.9 billion – 1.3%

Of the companies, NextEra Energy received $2 billion in PTC from its wind plants over 5 years. Okay, they are trying to save the planet, right? NextEra Energy recently built a natural gas plant on the edge of the Everglades. Natural Gas. It’s cleaner than coal, but it’s still fossil fuel. NextEra gets a tax break for helping to save the planet, then builds a fossil fuel plant.

Duke Energy is another interesting example. Their tax “burden”? -3.9%. Yes, that is a negative number. For a “caring” company involved in wind energy.

Wind companies often use their contributions to local economies as a selling point. Duke Energy filed for a reduction of $800,000 million in property tax on its “Top of the World” wind plant in 2012. This was not the first such filing. In Florida (Citrus County), Duke Energy appealed $16.8 million in property taxes after paying 19.3 million of the total bill. Schools, firefighters and police were adversely affected. Citrus County appropriated $350,000 to fight this reduction. Duke also fought with Ohio over taxes due there. There does not seem to be much altruism involved here.

Duke received $11 million in 1603 grants for the “Top of the World” plant. They also received $200 million stimulus money for grid improvements in 2009. Then there was the $125 million for advanced clean coal—a credit from the DOE.

What has Duke done with its earnings? In 2012, the company “loaned” the DNC $10 million for their convention in Denver. The $10 million was a loan because the Democratic Party did “not take corporate donations”. After the election, the loan was forgiven and Duke wrote it off as a business expense. This cost shareholders $6 million dollars. There was also $1.5 million in inkind donations and $4 million to a group that promoted conventions in Denver.

None of the things point to any altruism in the wind industry—in fact, they are “business as usual”: currying favor with politicians with huge donations and trying to cut down the revenue they sold the towns on when they asked to put up turbines. Just like oil and gas, wind is ALL about money.

This blogspot has very detailed information on the money game in the wind industry:


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Wandering Words


“We do not believe any group of men adequate enough or wise enough to operate without scrutiny or without criticism. We know that the only way to avoid error is to detect it, that the only way to detect it is to be free to inquire. We know that in secrecy error undetected will flourish and subvert”. - J Robert Oppenheimer.

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