News Story

Will GOP Control Change the Wind on Wind Energy?

Gov. Jennifer Granholm's latest green-energy job creator could end up eventually hiking the cost of energy for Americans, according to critics.

Granholm recently released the name of a company that has announced it plans to expand and double its projected job creation to 276 by 2014. The company is URV USA, a wind turbine castings foundry in Eaton Rapids. The company plans to expand its capacity and become an 80,000 metric ton facility.

According to the state's press release, the state of Michigan gave $3.5 million to URV USA, which is based in Finland and has operations in Sweden. The project is also expected to receive $4 million from the U.S. Department of Energy.

"The critical point is the pending financial support from the U.S. Department of Energy," said Russ Harding, senior environmental analyst for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. "It is obvious that this venture is not viable without government money,"

Critics point out that generating wind energy is too expensive to be economically viable without government subsidies.

According to the Energy Information Administration, wind generation costs $141.50 per megawatt hour, and offshore wind is $229.60 per megawatt hour. By contrast, conventional coal costs $94.60 a megawatt hour. 

Solar photovoltaic is the most expensive form of energy at $395.70 a megawatt hour. The state of Utah has started installing Solar PV systems in its schools.

 If the political winds change in Washington or Lansing, then government could end financial support for green energy, making the future of green energy risky.

"This is a wholly government created phenomenon," said Dan Kish, senior vice president for policy at the Institute for Energy Research. "If this Congress does not extend all of this largess that this industry has been living on, the industry will dry up. ... That money goes away, the only thing for that business to do is to raise the cost of that electricity."

Wind energy also isn't as dependable because it can only work when there is windy conditions. This means that there must be a backup energy provider, which is often natural gas plants, according to Andrew Morriss, a Senior Fellow at the Property & Environment Research Center in Montana, and a Visiting Professor of Law at the University of Alabama.

Morriss says this causes utilities to build twice as much generating capacity in order to make sure the lights stay on.

"It's a very expensive way to create energy," Morris said. "If Michigan wants job growth, it needs to focus on cheap and reliable energy and low taxes. I think you just elected a governor that is going to do that. But Gov. Granholm has not done this. She has focused on expensive, unreliable energy and high taxes."

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.