October 23, 2012 | Energy Policy, Sustainability + Energy

If you’ve read my past posts, you know I love numbers and finance. If you share those same passions, read on.

Despite recent gum flapping that renewable energy receives special treatment from Uncle Sam in terms of tax credits, grants, loan guarantees, and research and development funds, the numbers tell a different story. Here are just a few:

1932: The year coal industries began to deduct a portion of their income to help cover capital investments (a.k.a. the percentage depletion allowance), increasing the ROI for extractors and generators.


1957: The year the Price-Anderson Act went into effect, allowing nuclear power generators to shift the risk of potential accidents to the federal government, dramatically reducing the investment risk.


65,000,000,000: The amount of money the nuclear industry has received in federal research and development money since the 1950s.


446,960,000,000: The amount of federal subsidies given to oil and gas since 1918.


5,930,000,000: The amount of federal subsidies given for renewable energy from 1994-2009.


1977: The year U.S. Department of Energy successfully demonstrated commercial success of massive hydraulic fracturing in shale gas deposits.


1.0: The percent of the federal budget that went towards subsidies for nuclear power in the start-up years of the industry.


0.01: The percent of the federal budget that currently goes towards renewable energy subsidies.

 I could go on, but my patience for this topic is wearing thin. One final number for you:

37,000: The number of direct wind energy jobs (excluding those in companies providing secondary services) that could be lost if Congress fails to extend the Production Tax Credit for wind—a number that speaks for itself.



DLB Investors, What Would Jefferson Do? The Historical Role of Federal Subsidies in Shaping America's Energy Future, 2011 [.pdf]

Stephen Lacey, Climate Progress, Free Market Hypocrisy: Why Do We Hold Renewables to Different Standards than Fossil Fuels and Nuclear, 2012