Renewable energy collects 93% of federal subsidies
Renewable energy obtained 93% of federal energy fuel subsidies while generating 22% of total U.S. energy in fiscal year 2016, according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). Many states also waive tax payments for renewable energy or offer other deals for renewable energy production.
The EIA recently evaluated energy-related subsidies that the federal government provided in fiscal year 2016 as an update to a study on fiscal years 2013 and 2010. Federal subsidies that support non-fossil fuels, including renewable energy and nuclear power, were $7.047 billion in fiscal year 2016, and more than 14 times higher that the subsides for fossil fuels, which were $489 million.
The previous subsidies don’t include state or local subsidies, mandates or incentives. Three-fifths of states have mandated levels of renewable energy production, and the incentives that many states provide have been a result of lobbying by renewable energy interests, according to the Institute for Energy Research (IER).
In fiscal year 2016, fossil fuels, including oil, natural gas and coal, supplied 78% of total U.S. energy while receiving 7% of federal energy fuel subsidies, the EIA data shows. Following was the non-fossil fuel share of total energy production: nuclear, 10%; biomass, 5.9%; hydroelectric, 2.9%; wind, 2.4%; solar, 0.6%; and geothermal, 0.2%. Biofuels received 37%, or $2.8 billion, of federal energy fuel subsidies, followed by solar energy at 30%, or $2.2 billion, and wind energy at 17%, or $1.3 billion. Solar and wind continue to be eligible for tax credits: production tax credit for wind and the investment tax credit for solar. Tax expenditures accounted for 80% of total renewable energy subsidies.
Tax provisions related to oil and natural gas led to positive revenue flow for the government, resulting in a negative net subsidy of $773 million for oil and natural gas, according to the U.S. Department of Treasury. Federal subsidies and support for coal was $1.26 billion in fiscal year 2016.