Can Renewables Compete?

| December/January 2005


Q & A with Alternative Energy Expert Scott Sklar

Q. I was in a debate with someone who said that renewable (solar, wind, hydroelectricity, etc.) energy should just compete in a free market like every other industry and should stop receiving government and state subsidies. I wanted to disagree with him, but I didn't have the facts.

? John Z.; Denver, Colorado

A. The United States subsidizes its coal and oil industries more than any other country, so there is no 'free market.' Some examples of these subsidies are oil and gas depletion allowances, special treatments for coal royalties, tax waivers for companies with overseas refineries and federal appropriations for black/brown lung benefits for coal miners. There are many other subsidies, and they all total billions of dollars per year.

In comparison, renewable energy receives much less ? under $100 million per year in subsidies. If we are going to shift to renewable energy before oil and gas run out, we need to shift taxpayer subsidies from fossil fuels to renewables.

tom kociemba
11/24/2006 12:00:00 AM

We need to begin the shift as quickly as possible from living off earth's savings to living off earth's income. The implications of this policy shift need to be reflected in our demands on our political leader at all levels of government, industry and personal lifestyles.Water: Out law R/O systems and water softeners to reduce water usage and salinity in downstream water.The average new home with a water softener adds 10.5 pounds of chlorides to down stream water per week. R/O systems use 3 to 5 gallons of water to produce one gallon of drinkable water and the back wash is so toxic you cannot even use it to water your plants or golf courses.Health Care: We need to move from a Sickness Health Care System to a Wellness health Care System. Nutrition, Nutrition, Nutrition!Fossil fuels: We need to move from fossil fuels to bio-diesel. From standard bio-diesel facilities that use food & water to produce bio-diesel to the new technology marketed by Green Star Products, Inc (GSPI.PK) that uses algae & no water.Subsidies: We need to shift all subsidies to the production of clean technology as fast as the market can absorb it.Political: All political parties from the precinct up need to promote this philosophy in all things. It will be like peeling an union. Each success will present another challenge.

tom kociemba
10/24/2006 12:00:00 AM

If we get out and vote the Democrats into power they have pledged to reallocate $6B in subsidies that Bush has pledged to the oil companies and reallocate it in the first 100 HOURS to renewable energy sources.We have only our selves to blame if we don't vote.The fossil fuel industry lives off earths savings (Read Republican). The renewable industry is advocating that we live off earths income (Read Democrat.

ser mar
12/27/2005 12:00:00 AM

well a comment to the normal balance of big enterprise,competing with the little guy(u and I that are on renewable energy source) they dont like us,never did and never will... we are the enemy, it is all about what they say "if it dont make dollars then it dont make sense"....but now the difference is we are slowly getting a voice in the big pic of how energy is consumed and dispensed..they played us with the gas prices and then it went down again when people started to drive less,well my come back to them,was to buy a much smaller car with the fantastic gas milage and still I drive less so they will feel it from u and I,if we all change our consuption habits and stick with it and make it a lifestyle choice instead of a temp thing..Renewable energy is fun to do and saves u money this is a no brainer....think about it,if u can save an extra $1,200. per yr then u get to do and have more fun in ur life

andrew becker
12/6/2005 12:00:00 AM

I don't think the suffering of so many people is in question here. The government tax credit(s) for what the companies pay into those well fought for funds is the issue. It means the funds come, in whole or at least in part, from your wallet and mine, not the companies. In my book, that's a subsidy.Merriam Webster uses this phrase: "a grant by a government to a private person or company to assist an enterprise deemed advantageous to the public"You certainly can't argue that it's not advantageous to the public. And, you certainly can't argue that the companies are not capable of paying these benefits themselves.Plain and simple, there is no need for government money here, whether real or in the form of a tax write-off. Unfortunately, it's what it takes to make sure that the people who need/deserve the compensation actually receive it.

robert brookshire
12/6/2005 12:00:00 AM

Not only are present energy systems highly subsidized, but someone that thinks "renewable" energy sources can't compete in a "free market" fails to recognize that fossil fuel energy itself represents a tremendous, one-time subsidy for the human race. That energy was stored away for eons and exists now to subsidize human expansion, including our luxurious desires. Thus, the whole fossil fuel industry is one tremendous subsidy for human development. Once that energy is gone, our systems can no longer exist in their present state. It is simply ludicrous for someone to claim that fossil fuel energy systems are a true "free market" way of doing business. All of the energy contained in Earth's biosphere is solar energy, which makes Nature a free market solar economy. Any use of fossil fuels is a subsidy of that economy. I find it shocking just how confused our worldview is if we actually see fossil fuels as a part of a "free market" economy.

sam steele
12/6/2005 12:00:00 AM

How dare you list blacklung benefits as subsidies. If you knew the suffering and how many ex-miners from earlier,dustier mining techniques have died a long slow death, you wouldn't think of them as subsidies. The coal companies pay into these well fought for funds and as well they should!Not so our federal government.

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