Because there’s a chance (admittedly slim) that Congress might come to its senses and not renew direct wind power subsidies when they expire later this year, the Obama White House is finding creative new ways to subsidize the industry through alternative means. Let’s just call these “stealth subsidies.”
One way to do this is to push the Pentagon to go on a “green power” buying binge – something that the President touted in his State of the Union address, with too little scrutiny. The mandated purchases not only will help keep floundering solar and wind power companies afloat, but they’ll mitigate the need for these industries to improve cost-competitiveness, since price-shopping will be a lower priority for the Pentagon than following the President’s orders and shoveling this money out the door. Mandates often are just subsidies by another name. Such is the case here.
The Defense Department is a convenient and tempting vehicle for facilitating such schemes because 1) it follows orders (even when those orders have little to do with maximizing — and may actually be detrimental to – military preparedness) and 2) it in recent times has become the willing plaything of social engineers. Best of all, the department has a massive budget, in which all manner of non-germane spending can be secreted away, with few objections from Republicans, who have painted themselves into a corner by taking the position that all military spending is necessary military spending.
And if the Pentagon is being used as a vehicle for funneling stealth subsidies to Big Sun and Big Wind, and as a hedge against the possibility that more overt subsidies may fall out of political favor and be eliminated, who will object? This is the federal government, after all. Money is no object and cost-effectiveness is not a factor. If DOD’s green power purchases cost the taxpayers extra, and divert dollars from bona fide military expenditures, that’s just the price we pay for propping-up these federally-favored industries.