Wind turbines on Iowa farm.
Mitt Romney has been dissing wind power
—in fact, renewable energy generally— for quite some time. He was at it again
just last week in, of all places, Iowa. That state generates nearly 20 percent of its electricity from wind turbines, the highest rate in the nation, and boasts 7,000 wind-industry jobs, from maintenance to manufacturing.
An 85 percent majority of Iowans say the wind industry has been good for Iowa, and 59 percent of independents as well as 41 percent of Republicans in the state say they would be less likely to back a presidential candidate who does not support expanding the use of wind as a power source.
Sen. Charles Grassley, Gov. Terry Branstad and Rep. Tom Latham are among the Iowans saying wind power is a good thing.
Perhaps Romney belatedly caught wind of all this and made one of his patented U-turns Wednesday as his campaign again took him to Iowa:
We have got to take advantage of America’s extraordinary energy resources: coal, oil, gas, nuclear, renewables, wind, solar, ethanol, you name it. We’ve gotta take advantage of all of them.
Boilerplate. But still a change from what he's been saying for months.
Romney specifically noted last week that the production tax credit—which subsidizes wind, solar and geothermal power facilities—should be allowed to expire at the end of the year. The industry should sink or swim on its own and compete on a level playing field. Yet he is on record as supporting long-standing subsidies for fossil fuels and nuclear power. How level is that?
Wind power is not pie in the sky. Not a maybe thing in the far-off future. As I noted Sunday:
Iowa isn't the only state getting a high proportion of its electricity from the wind. South Dakota is first, with 22 percent. North Dakota, Minnesota and Wyoming all get at least 10 percent of theirs that way. All told, wind has an installed generating capacity of 49 gigawatts in the U.S., about 4.3 percent of the nation's total. Wind generated slightly more than 3 percent of total U.S. electricity in the United States during the 12-month period ending in May this year.
That may not seem like much. But a decade ago, it was one-tenth that. Phenomenal growth.
And that growth can go a lot farther. Many analysts say it could generate 20 percent or more of the electricity consumed by the whole nation.
But the gains made so far wouldn't have happened without the production tax credit. And that credit needs another five to 10 years to complete the task it was set up for in the first place, to give renewable energy industries a boost until it becomes self-sustaining. That's the same kind of boost the coal, and oil and nuclear energy industries have gotten.
Romney is now making fluffy remarks about supporting an energy buffet. But as he knows better than most, words don't mean anything until they have money behind them. Without disavowing his previous remarks against the production tax credit, Romney is just spouting hot air on renewable energy and sticking to the fossil fuelery that makes so many of his campaign contributors happy.
HoundDog has a discussion in his post on the subject.