Wednesday, November 30, 2011

I am a Republican who worked for President George W. Bush both when he was governor of Texas and when he was president, and I am now working to create jobs in renewable energy. The recent opinion column by Reps. Raul R. Labrador and Mike Pompeo (“Era of energy subsidies is over,” Commentary, Monday) told only half the story.

Mr. Labrador and Mr. Pompeo are striving to eliminate all subsidies in the energy system, and their legislation makes a strong effort at repealing many tax subsidies. However, there are many other subsidies that continue to skew electricity markets. The very fact that not all issues are addressed amounts to picking winners and losers.

The wind business could thrive in a truly free market. That would require the elimination of federal loan guarantees and Price-Anderson Act insurance limits for commercial nuclear reactors, the elimination of investment tax credits for coal plants and the elimination of subsidies that support research-and-development programs to improve the efficiency of combustion turbines. It is unlikely that will ever happen and we will ever get to a free market in the electric-power system. Politicians and state regulators will never let electric prices rise and fall as a free market would dictate.

In the absence of true free markets, Republicans should look toward leaders like Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback and Iowa Gov. Terry E. Branstad to better understand the value of renewable-energy development. Like most Beltway myths, characterizations of the renewable industry are wrong, more ideological than fact-based.

As Mr. Brownback recently said, “Experience has taught us that investment in the renewable-energy economy is creating jobs across all employment sectors, including construction, engineering, operations, technology and professional services, in both rural and urban communities.”

It is in the red states where the development of wind energy is growing the fastest. My home state of Texas - where we get almost 10 percent of our electricity from wind - and Iowa are leaders, with Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska and the Dakotas taking the steps to catch up quickly.

Most important, until a truly free market takes over, I hope Mr. Labrador and Mr. Pompeo can agree with me that a tax increase on the wind-energy industry will skew the market even more and have a detrimental effect on an industry that is generating clean, affordable, homegrown electricity, creating jobs and providing an economic shot in the arm to farmers, ranchers, rural communities and manufacturing towns all across America.


Executive vice president

Clean Line Energy Partners


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