Subsidies and Electricity Generation: which sources produce and which simply suck up tax dollars?

Which sources of electricity are responsible for generating a majority of the electricity in the United States and which receive a majority of the subsidies? The following charts illustrate the issue nicely:

Notably, in terms of generation, solar doesn’t even generate enough electricity to be broken out (although it does under subsidies). The best ratio in terms of most electricity generated relative to subsidies is natural gas. Nuclear, which many free market advocates strongly support, receives a relatively high rate of subsidies, but nowhere near the immense quantities of taxpayer dollars given to wind.

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2 Replies to “Subsidies and Electricity Generation: which sources produce and which simply suck up tax dollars?”

  1. Why do we have subsidies for mature industries? Why do we have subsidies for low pollution wind and solar? Seems to me that they just distort the free market, perhaps more than we think. The big effect of subsidies for crucial energy consumption is to transfer the cost of mercury in trout or guarding the radioactive crud for 10,000 years, not to the consumption economy but to the taxpayer. This doesn’t make sense.

    We can NEVER estimate the cost of nuke electricity, because we do not know how to finish the job, how to deal with the radioactive junk. Why do we transfer the cost of energy consumption to the general public? Well, if PNM charged all ratepayers for the coal pollution (not the haze but the molecules in the biosphere), Intel would pull up stakes and head for a low standards third world nation. People would stop wasting electricity. Childhood asthma would go away. Taxpayers would be able to choose cleaner electrons.

    Apparently we subsidize mature electricity to keep people consuming and wasting, and big employers employing. Lousy tradeoff when we have better ways to do things.

    BTW, 2010 EIA stats are very obsolete in the PV/Wind marketplace.

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