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Progressive pretzel logic

Autry J. Pruitt


One of the problems with modern progressive thought in America today is that it lacks cohesion.  Big ideas conceived to usher in some sort of better, fairer, more equitable America ultimately collapse under the weight of implementation. What passes for logic in these progressive schemes ultimately twists itself into an ideological pretzel as the front end of an idea knots with the back end of putting it into practice.

One grand example of this today is wind power.  One of the pillars of “sustainable energy” (which I’m totally in favor of), it has been showered with taxpayer-funded subsidies (which I’m totally against) and incorporated into a variety of energy mandates (another thing I’m totally against). Increasingly, utilities around the country are being compelled by law to provide a certain percentage of total electrical power that is derived from wind and other “sustainable” sources.

Among these utilities are Duke Energy and PacifiCorp Energy. As a responsible corporate citizens, these companies have dutifully increased their wind power operations.  The problem:  nobody told birds to not fly into wind turbines so some are flying into them. It’s not pretty.

Environmentalists are up in arms over these dead birds and among the casualties are 374 mangled birds at PacifiCorp’s wind farm in Wyoming. The birds killed flying into these cuisinarts in the sky, promoted by progressives, constitute a violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, also promoted by progressives.

For the crime of not preventing birds from flying into their windmills, PacifiCorp was fined $2.5 million. More recently, a similar thing happened to Duke, which was fined a million bucks because more than 150 birds flew into its Wyoming windmills.

Nobody on the left was smart enough to figure out that if you put up hundreds of spinning wind turbines, birds might fly into them. So companies obeying one progressive law end up violating a different progressive law. Pretzel logic.

But it gets worse.  If you’ve ever suspected that the benefits of wind power just don’t add up, your suspicions have been validated. A fresh study by Utah State University shows that the true cost of wind power is way higher than what we’ve been told.

Trying to figure out how much it costs to produce wind energy isn’t easy and different researchers use different ways to calculate this figure with early estimates ranging from $59 to $97 per megawatt hour.  But these estimates don’t include the subsidies for wind power – which receives more taxpayer money than any other form of electricity – or the cost of getting this power from the often distant wind farms on which it’s produced to cities where it’s used, or the cost of keeping real power plants in standby mode because, you know, the wind doesn’t always blow but we always need electricity.

Researchers at Utah State added it all up and it turns out that the true cost of wind power is actually about $150 per megawatt hour.  See how this works?  Progressives promise lower energy costs when it actually costs more. Sound familiar?

Progressives demand taxpayers subsidize wind power to get low-cost sustainable energy which actually costs more and violates progressive bird protection laws because nobody told the protected birds to not fly into these windmills. The theory, when put into practice, becomes twisted into a pretzel of senseless contradictions.

Look, a lot of libertarians like me are all in favor of sustainable energy. Whether it’s wind farms, solar panels, hydro or a hamster on a treadmill, I’m all for it if it generates electricity. But I draw the line at deliberately skewing the free market by giving my tax dollars away to shore up the wind power industry or whatever else happens to be in vogue.

If the Obama administration really wanted to help consumers when it comes to energy, they would end these subsidies and return that money to the taxpayers to help them pay their electric bill every month. It’s time to level the playing field in energy by recognizing the true cost of wind and dumping the subsidies.

Pruitt is a nationally syndicated radio host on UrRepublic. He can be followed on Twitter @autry.