The GAO has reported on subsidies to our electric sector, proving what Grist readers already (sadly) know, namely that subsidies to the dirty folks vastly exceed existing or proposed subsidies to cleaner generation.

The most remarkable thing is that the biggest subsidies, like nuclear liability guarantees and lower debt costs through rate payer guarantees, aren’t even included in the list (although, to the GAO’s credit, it does acknowledge their existence).

So who’s packing the biggest, er, subsidy?

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Nuclear and Coal.

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Or, more specifically, of the total $11.5 billion in electricity related R&D funding from 2002-2007, it was allocated as follows:

$6.2 billion to nuclear
$3.1 billion to fossil fuel (primarily coal — clean coal tech and FutureGen)
$1.4 billion to renewables

On the other side of the ledger, tax breaks for various electricity technologies have had a total “revenue loss” for the U.S. government of $18.2 billion during the same period, broken down as follows:

$13.7 billion to fossil fuels
$2.8 billion to renewables

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One of the juicier parts of the report is the rather sizable list of subsidies that weren’t included, starting on page 32. It’s to GAO’s credit such subsidies are acknowledged at all (and it looks like a heck of a research project in the making), but even a cursory review reveals that the unquantified subsidies probably dwarf anything that is quantified — and they’re even more heavily biased towards the status quo.

Worth the read …