In Focus: US Alternative Energy Subsidies

Subsidies.  

We’ve all heard about “energy subsidies” and “oil subsidies” but what are they really?  Subsidies in a general sense are money given by the government to various industries in order to make their goods more affordable than they would be in the open market.  There are agricultural subsidies, energy subsidies, and technology subsidies, all sorts of subsidies to help decrease the cost of living for the average American.

Sounds good right?

Except for one thing about this arrangement– the government gets to decide which things they want to make cheaper for people to buy, thereby somewhat manipulating what people DO buy.   

This issue is really coming to head in the relatively new alternative energy sector.  Alternative energies cannot compete in the energy industry if they are prohibitively expensive for the average person.  

Taking a look at the numbers, we see that between 2002 and 2008 renewable energies received $12.2 billion in government subsidies, while in the same time period fossil fuels received $70.2 billion in government subsidies, almost a 6-fold difference.

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