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Web letter by Ken Selking: We can’t afford subsidies for unneeded wind farms

The current controversy in Wells County about the wisdom of building a new wind farm there, or anywhere else for that matter, can easily be settled by asking one simple question: How many would be built were it not for federal, state and/or local subsidies? (Tax abatements would be a separate issue.)

A lot of numbers are batted about; millions, hundreds of millions to be spent on construction and payments to farmers and taxes paid to local governments, etc., etc. But I don’t usually hear anyone talking about where the construction money is coming from in the first place.

It’s simple basic economics that if the wind farms are an economically viable project in and of themselves, private investment money will come flooding in and everybody’s happy, and you can have at it. That’s free market capitalism at work. If, on the other hand, the answer is that they wouldn’t be built without federal money, then ask why is that and where is the federal government getting the money?

The ugly fact is the federal government doesn’t have any money to give anybody without first taking it from someone else. In this case, With the U.S. already $17 trillion in debt, the feds are taking the money from your grandkids and great-grandkids.

An equally large issue is where the generated electricity goes when the wind is blowing. Fact is, since President Obama is openly and staunchly anti every kind of fossil fuel, as a matter of law and rule, many electric utilities are being forced to buy this wind and solar electricity, often at higher prices than they can generate it themselves. They then have to re-sell it, and guess who pays the higher price?

It’s widely accepted now that we have enough of our own oil and gas to last us perhaps 100 to 200 years, not even counting our big chunk of the world’s coal, so why are we spending money we don’t have on wind and solar energy that can’t stand on its own two feet?

If I still had farm land, I’d probably be tempted to have wind turbines too for the rent they’re supposed to pay. But aside from all the issues of shadow flicker, noise and the hundreds of thousands of everything from eagles to bats they kill, we have to look beyond our own self interest and look at the big picture because as a country we simply can’t keep spending money we don’t have on things we don’t need.

KEN SELKING

Decatur

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