A retired utility company executive tried but failed this past week to convince his colleagues wind power isn’t a money-maker. Representative Ralph Watts, a Republican from Adel, has a degree in electrical engineering. “Ladies and gentlemen of the House, I think the technology is very well understood with respect to wind energy and the fact is it can’t survive without a (tax) subsidy, ever,” Watts said. Watts talked for over half an hour during debate on a bill that would offer state tax breaks to Iowans who buy small wind turbines or other machines that convert “alternative” fuels like switchgrass to energy. Watts said coal-fired plants produce cheaper energy that what’s produced by a wind turbine. “The air in the United States has become cleaner over the last 30 years, so what are we really financing here? Are we financing clean air that we have already?” Watts asked. Watts also offered this rebuttal to the arguments of those who say Iowa needs to start producing its own energy, and wind turbines are an excellent source of electricity. Watts said coal is “remanufactured” in coal-fired plants and makes “fairly cheap” electricity. Watts tried other, more complicated arguments, but lost in the end. The House passed the bill and Governor Vilsack is expected to sign it.
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