The mainstream media conveniently ignores that President-elect Donald Trump cares about birds. “The [Obama] administration fast-tracked wind projects that kill more than 1 million birds a year,” Trump told a group of oil men and women in North Dakota last May. In August, he furthered his stance, telling people: “The wind kills all your birds. All your birds, killed. You know, the environmentalists never talk about that.”
Wind in trouble?
It is no surprise, then, that shares in Vestas Wind Systems A/S, a Danish company that is the world’s biggest wind turbine producer, plunged by 14 percent shortly after Trump's victory. The company’s chairman told Bloomberg News that the American market is an important source of business, but he otherwise didn’t sound particularly worried. “I think Trump has a lot of other things to deal with right now rather than wind energy,” the chairman reportedly said.
Good business in Republican states
In Texas, which supplies more wind power than any other state in the country, wind developer and attorney Steven DeWolf founded Wind Tex Energy back in 2002. The company's projects now comprise an estimated 5 percent of the state’s wind energy.
“There is a fair amount of angst in the wind industry about what the Trump presidency will mean. I've seen some comments that it will be business as usual, I’ve seen others that it might change,” DeWolf tells ConsumerAffairs. “But my take on it is nothing will change in the next four years.” Like others, DeWolf doesn’t expect Trump to invest more in wind, but he also doesn’t anticipate losing the incentive programs that already exist.
Still, such incentive programs are designed to be phased out by that 2019 expiration date unless more legislation is passed. "I think most folks in the wind business would have liked to seen it [the tax credit program] stay at 100 percent a little bit longer,” says DeWolf, adding that while Texas wind developers are doing well, offshore wind development is unlikely to take off without generous incentives.
Fossil fuel subsidies outpace renewables
The more-of-the-same prediction is comforting enough for those who have already profited from wind energy, but environmental scientists say that much more government investment in renewables is necessary to halt climate change. Renewables receive $120 billion in incentives a year, an amount that is only a fraction of the subsidies that fossil fuels receive. According to the International Energy Agency, a Paris-based think tank, fossil fuels are enjoying $550 billion each year in subsidies. Such incentives, the IEA has said, discourage potential investments in cleaner energy.
In an interview with Marketwatch, an analyst was even less optimistic, telling the publication that Trump’s presidency and a Republican-controlled congress both pose “significant risks” to existing tax credit programs for solar and wind.
Trump's pick to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, Myron Ebell, meanwhile, has dismissed concerns about climate change as mere "alarmism."