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Market forces choose wind power

As a staunch believer in free markets, I don’t pick winners and losers- I let the market do that for me. And right now, the free market is telling me wind power is a big part of America’s energy future.
There will always be people who hold on to old technology even while the evidence mounts around them that the new is better.

Time and time again, history proves that those who refuse to be forward-looking get left behind. Whether it’s buggy whip manufacturers scoffing at the Model T Ford or someone hunting for a pay phone, some people just can’t adapt to the times.
{mosads}Here’s what happened for wind power in 2015. It was the year’s largest source of newly installed electric capacity, beating solar and natural gas by significant margins. Wind made up 35 percent of all new electricity that came online last year.

We see this progress in state after state: Iowa generated 31 percent of electricity with wind in 2015, while 12 states created at least 10 percent.
Or how about this: America continues to be the best in the world for wind energy production. We should be proud that the United States is number one on the list, beating China, Germany and every other country.
If wind output was so low last year, how come grid operators in Texas and the Midwest broke wind power output records several times throughout the fall? At times wind has generated as much as 45 percent of the electricity on Texas’ main grid.
Wind power’s growth isn’t slowing either. The Department of Energy says wind could provide 20 percent of America’s electricity by 2030, and by mid-century it could be our largest electricity source.
That sounds healthy to me. And do you know what that growth means? Jobs.
Wind power is putting Americans back to work. At the start of 2015, 73,000 U.S. citizens worked in wind, with 20,000 jobs on the manufacturing side.
Wind is in the process of proving its detractors wrong, even when they cite statistics that don’t support their naysaying conclusions. Some have falsely claimed 2015 was a bad year for wind power. The entire basis for this argument is that wind speeds were lower in 2015 than they were in 2014. But here’s why that’s misleading- 2014 was a record-breaking year for wind speeds.

Wind speeds were right in line with historical averages in 2015, and they were blowing hard enough to generate enough electricity to power 17.5 million American homes. That would satisfy the combined full electricity demands for Colorado, Oklahoma and Kansas.

The figures are in, and the figures don’t lie. We’ve got an amazing wind resource in America, and we should use it.
We should also use the potential of free market-driven innovation. Wind and other renewables face near-death experiences every time subsidies come up for renewal. The best renewal would be the creation of a level playing field where all energy sources bear their own costs and all subsidies are removed.
A major step in that direction was taken with the recent phase down of renewable tax credits.  However subsidies still exist for fossil and nuclear energy.  We hope all energy sectors will join us at as we make the case that it’s free market principles and the invisible hand that guide the best products and services to the top.
In a fully accountable marketplace, challenger fuels like wind will do very well because they cost less when all costs are counted. The incumbent fuels fear that accountability—for good reason.  

Former Rep. Bob Inglis (R-SC4 1993-1999; 2005-2011) directs, a troop committed to growing free enterprise solutions to climate change.


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