Pyle spreads misinformation about wind power far and wide

7 February 2014 by Peebles Squire Peebles Squire

Recently, newspapers in several states across the country have published similar opinion pieces by former lobbyist for Koch Industries Thomas Pyle, now president of the anti-wind American Energy Alliance. These canned attacks portray wind as costly and uncompetitive, and attack the jobs it supports. They all share a strong bias and outdated, discredited information.

With only a minor tweak here and there, Pyle broadcasts nearly identical op-eds to anybody who will take them.

Whether in Virginia, Texas, or Alabama, they all read the same:

…[T]he evidence is mounting that these types of “green” and “clean energy” handouts are surprisingly dirty…”

The same goes for Iowa, Pennsylvania, and Wyoming, where only the slightest changes can be found:

“These perverse trade-offs can be laid at the feet of government subsidies… the government’s financial intervention distorts the economy… as Solyndra and others demonstrate…”

One state at a time, Pyle copy-and-pastes his way to misinforming readers of American newspapers. 

Recycling already debunked information

The Pyle op-eds mostly regurgitate previously debunked information about wind power and other renewables.

In addition to citing the example of Solyndra, which has nothing to do with wind power, Pyle chooses to use a widely discredited CBS report that doesn’t mention wind power once as an indictment of the clean energy industry, a convenient, but fact-free attempt to fulfill his – and his funders’ – agenda.

Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2), a national group composed of over 850 business leaders, responded to poorly assembled CBS report with their own rebuttal:

[S]uggesting clean tech has "crashed" is just plain wrong. The overall failure rate of DOE investments in clean energy projects is remarkably low. And for some reason, 60 Minutes chose to ignore the fact that renewable energy last year was the biggest supplier of new electricity in America. – E2

Pyle attacks the clean energy jobs created by wind power by citing an ancient report known as the “Spanish study.” As if stepping into his own personal time machine, Pyle travels half a decade into the past, searching for a moment when this report wasn’t so thoroughly debunked that there’s even a comprehensive list of everything wrong with it. Using a study so questionable that it was thrown out by both the U.S. and Spanish governments does not lend credibility.

Even if it were valid in Spain (which it’s not), it wouldn’t apply here because wind power costs less and is driving down consumer bills here.

Pyle tees off his collection of misinformation with the claim that some states receive no benefit from  wind energy, so the federal PTC is somehow unfair to them. In fact all 50 states have either wind farms or factories in the supply chain, and many utilities source wind power from across state lines. Low-wind-speed technology is bringing turbines to many more areas.

The truth about wind power and the Production Tax Credit

The fact remains the PTC is an essential, effective instrument helping all Americans reap the benefits of adding wind power by enjoying lower electricity prices, new manufacturing jobs, and a healthier environment.

Wind power is one of the most broadly dispersed energy industries, fostering economic development across all 50 states. Wind energy is a mainstream energy source that attracts up to $25 billion a year in private investment, supports 80,000 good-paying jobs, and has built a new domestic manufacturing sector with over 550 factories in 44 states – now making 72 percent of a turbine’s value in the U.S.A.

Among the utilities purchasing low-cost wind energy from other states, for example, is the Southern Company’s Alabama Power subsidiary, which just brought in wind power from Oklahoma and Kansas “for one very basic reason, and that is they save our customers money.” Technology has reduced the average price of U.S. wind power by 43 percent in four years, according to the Department of Energy, maximizing Americans’ opportunity to get their electricity from reliable, innovative wind energy while saving money on their bills.

In fact, a recent report by Synapse Energy Economics found doubling the use of wind in the Mid-Atlantic and Great Lakes states would save consumers close to $7 billion a year.

For example, Oklahoma ratepayers are taking advantage of reduced costs and increased diversity on the grid:

"These [wind power] contracts were based on extraordinary pricing opportunities that will provide substantial savings for our customers. Another benefit is the diversity that an additional 600 megawatts of Oklahoma wind energy will bring to our fuel mix," said Stuart Solomon, president and chief operating officer of PSO.

While traditional forms of electrical generation sit on a legacy of nearly a century of permanent government support, the on-again, off-again nature of wind power’s tax incentive reduces its value, meaning it can’t provide the same level of certainty enjoyed by its more conventional contemporaries.

Like other domestic energy sources, American wind power needs a predictable, stable, pro-growth tax policy. Extending the wind energy tax incentive has the support of 73 percent of Americans, and the economic growth it provides through job creation and new manufacturing is a big reason.