So what I am going to tackle in this column I truly believe is the most complex property rights issue of our time. I guess I am becoming more of a zealot for property rights every day. I think I have the right to do with my property as I see fit.
The founders of our country obviously understood the long-term gain by maintaining that right. I have driven a lot in Iowa in the past month and a friend of mine made a statement that is simply stuck in my head. So here it is.
“I so much dislike driving across the country and seeing all the wind turbines that have been constructed.” Another friend indicated that he gets roughly $20,000 annually for each turbine on his property. OK, that is a better profit from the land than cows, sows or corn are going to generate. So for that I say: More power to you. Pun intended.
I really don’t believe that just because I don’t like seeing them I have any right to tell you what you should and should not do regarding placement of a wind turbine on your property. However, from the standpoint of our nation’s energy grid and policy, wind turbines clearly make no sense whatsoever.
Quick research will tell you, if you didn’t already know, that wind energy is the most subsidized in the country. Even more concerning is the fact that about 84 percent of this taxpayer money goes to foreign companies with Warren Buffett’s own Berkshire Hathaway being the largest domestic harvester of federal subsidies.
A now widely known quote that Buffett shared at the 2014 Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting was, “We get a tax credit if we build a lot of wind farms.…They don’t make sense without the tax credit.” And for 2016 that business plan certainly balances because he received $336 million in federal handouts for wind energy development alone. Every single week I have someone complaining to me about the farm subsidies. I have yet to meet a farm company that parallels this level of subsidy.
Iowa truly has become a leader in developing wind energy and frequently you see statistics such as this quoted.
“Along the way, power in Iowa has become among the cheapest in the nation. For 1 kilowatt-hour (enough to power 10 household light bulbs for one hour) in Des Moines, MidAmerican charges corporate customers just under 5 cents, well below the average nationwide.”
Yet this tells us nothing about the cost of making that electricity. The true cost of generating electricity by wind has certainly come closer because, as with most things, the initial building of the infrastructure carries the large price tag. With that said I see wind economists from around the nation giving real numbers that make sense: the cost is three-fold higher than electricity generated from coal or even natural gas.
Of course you have an entire group of people who support it simply because they believe it is “greener” for the environment. We need to get to the real world of science and remind people that your fearmongering on greenhouse gases is robbing plants of proper nutrition. Those greenhouse gases everyone is so worried about are not toxic pollutants, they are plant food. The more plant food, the more forages, the more humans and animals to eat the plants and thus the healthier the planet.
So again I come back to the simple concept of property rights. I cannot tell anyone in good faith that they shouldn’t put up that wind turbine on their own property but I do believe when the lights really come on, the nation as a whole will understand that wind energy just doesn’t make the world go around.
Editor’s note: Trent Loos is a sixth generation United States farmer, host of the daily radio show, Loos Tales, and founder of Faces of Agriculture, a non-profit organization putting the human element back into the production of food. Get more information at www.LoosTales.com, or email Trent at email@example.com.