President Obama’s Subsidy Problem

Last week, President Obama visited the Copper Mountain power plant in Boulder City, NV. Copper Mountain is the country’s biggest solar power plant of its kind. One would expect President Obama to have chosen this site in order to talk about the “future” of energy (the future as he sees it, where our country runs on sunshine and breezes) because it was helped by subsidies.

Not so much.

Copper Mountain received $40 million in federal investment tax credits and another $12 million from Nevada sales and property tax abatements. Tax credits such as these are given to multiple types of businesses in every state in order to attract business. Copper Mountain really didn’t receive the type of special treatment we’ve come to expect, and they certainly didn’t receive stimulus funds that went to failed companies like Solyndra.

Everyone is focused on the fact that Copper Mountain employs just 10 – yes 10! – full-time workers. That $52 million in tax credits amounts to $5.2 million per permanent job. Yes, we have to remember that 350 construction workers were needed to build the plant, but we’re talking permanent jobs here.

The real story here is not the amount of jobs created. All power plants require a lot of construction workers to be built but relatively few people to actually operate once the plant is up and running. The real story is the fact that President Obama went to a power plant that did not receive Solyndra-style taxpayer-funded subsidies, and it is the largest of its kind. More importantly, it was privately financed. Liberals would have you believe that no one is investing in alternative energy and that the federal government has to step in. President Obama just proved this to be false by visiting a plant that did just that!

This is the biggest reason not to pass bills like the NAT GAS Act. The subsidies the Senate rejected are completely unnecessary. The natural gas vehicle industry is already growing and does not need taxpayer dollars to be doled out to politically connecting companies. Private investment ensures that taxpayers are not the hook for failures that they didn’t agree to invest in, as well as ensuring that the company competes on its merits.

President Obama inadvertently proved conservative’s point: companies that succeed on their own merits with private investments do far better than those that receive taxpayer-funded subsidies.

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