Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Wind and rail

Today's New York Times reports that the wind power industry experienced 39 percent growth last year. I scanned the article looking for any tidbits about new technology or improvements that have brought down costs to make the technology more affordable, but didn't see much in that vein. Instead it seems the growth can be almost entirely attributable to favors being doled out by federal and state governments:
The [American Wind Energy Association] said the growth of wind power was helped by the federal stimulus package that passed a year ago, which extended a tax credit and provided other investment incentives for the industry.

...“The U.S. wind industry shattered all installation records in 2009, and this was directly attributable to the lifeline that was provided by the stimulus package,” said Denise Bode, the trade association’s chief executive.

...Much of the growth is attributable to state laws that mandate that a portion of the local power come from renewable sources.
In other words, taxpayer money in the form of subsidies and various regulations are resulting in the expanded use of a form of energy which is more expensive than other alternatives. We're paying more to accomplish the same amount, all because some politicians are convinced that wind power represents the future. It's the very opposite of economic progress.

Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal reports on efforts by well-connected corporate interests to obtain billions in taxpayer money to bring high-speed rail from Japan -- one of the most densely-populated countries in the world -- to that tightly-packed megalopolis, Florida. Again, this is being sponsored by politicians who claim they can see the future. I have a vision of the future too -- one that doesn't work and is bankrupt.

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