Going Dutch on Windmills

The times they are a changin’:

The 36 turbines — each one the height of a 30-storey building — produce enough electricity to meet the needs of more than 100,000 households each year.

But five years later the green future looks a long way off. Faced with the need to cut its budget deficit, the Dutch government says offshore wind power is too expensive and that it cannot afford to subsidize the entire cost of 18 cents per kilowatt hour — some 4.5 billion euros last year.

Wow. A government is not going to keep subsidizing something which it cannot afford. Apparently, not all of the sharp Dutchmen emigrated to the American Midwest.

I believe the current cost of my electricity to be about 10 cents per kw/h. I do not know if mine is subsidized (or to what extent). But I mention that to note that 18 cents per kw/h is substantial.

So, if the government can’t pay the price, what will it do?

The government now plans to transfer the financial burden to households and industrial consumers in order to secure the funds for wind power and try to attract private sector investment.

It will start billing consumers and companies in January 2013 and simultaneously launch a system under which investors will be able to apply to participate in renewable energy projects.

But the new billing system will reap only a third of what was previously available to the industry in subsidies — the government forecasts 1.5 billion euros every year — while the pricing scale of the investment plan makes it more likely that interested parties will choose less expensive technologies than wind.

Oh, they will let investors take over–and pass the costs on to the consumers. And then the investors will take their money elsewhere and the windmills will stop spinning altogether.

What’s not to like?