US Federal subsidies for energy (permanent & other): 1918-2015

American Wind Energy Association. 1947-2015

Source: The Joint Committee on Taxation, US Treasury, Office of Management and Budget, DBL Partners, Nuclear Energy Institute, Department of Energy via the American Wind Energy Association blog 19-July 2016

In 2016 the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) released what they termed "the most comprehensive review of energy incentives to date". This showed that wind energy still accounts for an extremely small share of all US federal energy incentives. Their analysis of all available data from government and other sources shows that for every dollar spent on federal energy incentives, wind energy received less than 3 cents.

They further noted that many incentives for conventional energy sources are written into the permanent tax code, making them far less visible than short-term incentives for renewable energy that must be brought up for extension, and debate, nearly every year. As Senator Charles Grassley (Republican-Iowa) has explained, “Opponents of the renewable energy provisions want to have this debate in a vacuum. They disregard the many incentives and subsidies that exist for other sources of energy, and are permanent law.

The skeptics out there will undoubtedly say "The American Wind Energy Association would say that - wouldn't they." But the reality is that no self-respecting oil and gas company is going to undertake analysis which indicates they enjoy, and have done for many years, generous taxpayer subsidies. 



DBL Partners: 1918-2010


In 2011 DBL Partners released a paper ('What would Jefferson Do?') which compared the level of US federal government support for renewables with support for earlier energy transitions (oil and gas, nuclear and biofuels). Their conclusions: "Our findings suggest that current renewable energy subsidies do not constitute an over-subsidized outlier when compared to the historical norm for emerging sources of energy. "

The following chart is from that paper which has lots of other excellent material.


Source: 'What Would Jefferson Do? The Historical Role of Federal Subsidies in Shaping America's Energy Future'. Nancy Pfund & Ben Healey. September 2011

* Oil & Gas includes only the subsidies embodied in 'Expensing of Intangible Drilling Costs' and 'Excess of Percentage over Cost Depletion Allowance'. Does not include US Department of Defense spending (several $-trillion) in the Persian Gulf region to secure US oil supply routes.

** Renewables excludes hydro since the authors were not able to find meaningful data.

The study authors chose not to include coal in this analysis since complete data was not available.