Sigh. The whole flap over Bobby Kennedy and the Cape Cod wind farm is first and foremost a distraction. In anything you’ve read about it, have you seen any statistics? How many wind farms are being actively fought by locals? How many of those on environmental grounds? Has Kennedy taken stands on other wind farms? What does the environmental impact statement on the wind farm say?
You’re unlikely to get any actual information from stories about the hubbub. Instead, expect a bunch of fatuous trend pieces (environmentalists divided!) and fatuous hypocrisy charges (environmentalists won’t take their own medicine!). Expect fatuity. The whole damn thing is a big Fatuity Generator.
Exhibit A: Conservative NYT columnist John Tierney addressed the controversy yesterday (yes, I know, you can’t read it). Here’s an excerpt:
To be fair, there are good arguments against the wind farm in Nantucket Sound. Robert Kennedy rightly complained that it wouldn’t be feasible without hefty state and federal subsidies. But neither would the other renewable-energy projects promoted by him and his uncle.
Environmentalists have been promising for more than three decades that wind energy would be competitive if there was a “level playing field,” but it survives only because the field has been tilted in its favor.
When you add up the tax breaks and other federal aid to wind farms, the subsidy per unit of energy produced is more than double the subsidy given to nuclear and fossil-fuel power plants, according to Thomas Tanton, a fellow at the Institute for Energy Research.
“Wind power is at least twice as expensive as power from conventional sources,” Tanton says, “and it’s less than half as valuable because it’s not always available when you need it.” Even when Tanton makes allowances for what economists call externalities – like the benefits of slowing global warming by emitting less carbon dioxide – he finds that wind power is still nowhere close to competitive.
The Institute for Energy Research, incidentally, “articulates free-market positions that respect private property rights and promote efficient outcomes for energy consumers and producers.” Its director, Robert Bradley, wrote “Global Warming Concerns Are False Alarm” and “Renewable Energy: Not Cheap, Not ‘Green’.” Tom Tanton, Tierney’s fave scholar, is “also Principal of T2 & Associates, a firm providing consulting services to the energy and technology industries.” For what it’s worth.