Monday, September 8, 2008

old hydro vs new wind, public vs private

Why is it that the nation's rivers (and the power from them) are national resources, but the nation's wind resources are being developed almost exclusively by private entities?

In order to end the Great Depression (funny thing: there was a time when WWI was called the Great War), provide cheap renewable energy, flood control, and irrigation water most of the nation's large dams were built in the 1930s - by entities created and run by the Federal government: the Tennessee Valley Authority, the Bonneville Power Administration, and the Bureau of Reclamation to name a few. These entities have defined regional power systems and have run flawlessly since the 1930s. They are excellent examples of how effective public power can be.

Public Power on a day-to-day basis serves the public. When a decision is being made, these organizations actually ask themselves "is this what is best for our customers?" Private Power ultimately serves shareholders. A complicated set of regulations prevents them from excessively abusing their customers, but at the end of the day they ask themselves: "how will this decision impact our stock value?"

Why is it, then that the Federal Renewable Energy Production Incentive is tax-based? This effectively excludes public entities from the renewable energy game. Public entities don't pay taxes, so giving them tax credits is pretty worthless.

It is a worthwhile time to consider this perverse bias, since the Federal Renewable Energy Incentive is expected to be renewed during this session of Congress.

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