The article “Timing Is Wrong To Take Away Subsidy For Wind Power” by the Concord Monitor editorial board (April 18, 2014) advocates the policy of subsidizing wind power. According to this article, the government should continue to subsidize wind power, as it is not yet economically capable of competing against alternative sources of energy, such as natural gas, oil, and coal. Furthermore, the article states that wind energy is eco-friendly and, therefore, should be promoted as an alternative to fossil fuels (which cause the emission of greenhouse gases, thus polluting the environment).
Wind power is eco-friendly and innovative. Moreso, its presence in the market is necessary as it provides us with a renewable source of energy at a time when we find ourselves falling short of fossil fuels. Though it may be argued that wind power has developed enough to not coerce tax payers into paying for its subsidization, it is yet to reach its full potential. It is not yet at a place where it can completely replace fossil fuels as a source of energy.
I firmly support the wind power industry, but at the same time do not think that it needs to be subsidized. Instead, it would make more sense to tax the carbon emissions of all energy producing industries. As the Concord Monitor stated: “Taxing carbon would instantly make wind power economically competitive without a subsidy.”
This is in keeping with the Pigovian Tax theory, which says that production activities causing negative externalities (in this case, carbon emissions) should be taxed. This pigovian tax not only ensures that wind power does not receive an undue advantage (subsidy) over fossil fuels in the market, but also imposes taxes rightly on the negative externalities caused to the environment due to these harmful carbon emissions.
The wind power industry would also be subject to these taxes as it, too, produces carbon emissions that pollute the environment (though the amount they emit is far less than industries who use fossil fuels to produce energy). Thus, by altering the law from subsidizing one industry (wind power) to taxing them all, all these industries would be treated equally under law and also be made able to economically compete with one another.
Now, you may ask why not just shift to wind power completely? The answer to this question is: wind is unpredicatable and inconsistent. This is why it is necessary to have prospering fossil fuel industries in the market to make up for that uncertainty. But by removing subsidies and not taxing emissions, the wind power industry will collapse, causing a great loss of jobs, as well as a reduction in the consumer’s choice range. According to “Big Wind’s Bogus Subsidies” by Nancy Pfotenhauer, published by the U.S. News and World Report: “At the end of the day, competition and free markets should shape US energy policy.” Keeping wind power in the competitive market increases the consumer’s choice range and reduces the likelihood of a price-dictatorship or a market monopoly.
It is often argued that the energy produced by wind farming is not enough. In other words, burning fossil fuels produces more energy on average than a wind farm. Pfotenhauer has a point on this topic: “The subsidy diverts labor and capital away from productive areas of the economy, which slows overall economic growth. With only a 0.1 percent GDP growth rate in the first quarter of 2014, slowing down is not a viable option.”
While this may be true, we need to consider that even by allowing wind power to take care of a small part of our energy needs, we are greatly benefiting the environment, whereas the economic losses are nearly negligible. Therefore, “slowing down” does slightly more good for society than harm to the economy. Thus, despite its supposed economic insufficiency, a healthy wind power industry is extremely important in striking a balance between economic progress and a sustainable lifestyle.
Taxing harmful emissions has another advantage: it allows us to allocate our surplus funds toward the reasearch and development of other technologies. Moreover, this encourages fossil fuel industries to develop more efficient filteration technologies. These industries will be motivated to reduce pollution by filtering their carbon emissions and reducing their toxicity, making the environment and its organisms better off.
In conclusion, it can be said that taxing carbon emissions is economically justified as it allows wind power to compete in the market, increases the consumer’s range of choice, reduces pollution, and creates funds that can be used in the development of new technologies. Keeping wind power alive is a step towards greater employment opportunities and a cleaner planet.