"The wind subsidies have been good," Crane said. "They have taken, in 20 years, a business that didn't exist and made it a pretty large-scale business. But 20 years is enough for a subsidy," he said. "We're asking that the government stop picking energy sources and let the market stabilize."
He said 30 states have mandated that renewable energy such wind and solar make up large portions of their electricity production within 15 years. Many are meeting that goal by purchasing renewable energy credits, not by building wind farms in their states. Instead, those wind farms are being built where there is ample wind and the wind companies are being paid to produce electricity even when electricity prices are so low that it otherwise wouldn't make economic sense to keep the turbines running.
Most of Exelon's nuclear plants serve the same markets, and the abundance of wind power is driving down the price Exelon receives for its electricity, which is hurting its profit margins.
Some say Exelon's cries to end the production tax credit for wind, over concerns about unfairly rewarding one form of energy over another, are hypocritical. They note that every form of energy in Exelon's portfolio has reaped the benefits of government intervention.
The company has been an advocate for tightened clean air rules, which largely affect competitors in the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic that burn coal to generate electricity. Only two years ago, the company estimated it could earn an extra $400 million a year as coal plants shut in the face of expensive environmental retrofits to meet tightened federal air pollution regulations.
In September 2011, Exelon acquired the rights to a $646 million loan, guaranteed by the Energy Department, to build a 230-megawatt solar project in Los Angeles County. Exelon has said that with the number of subsidies the project is receiving from all levels of government, it expects its construction costs to be covered.
Exelon's natural gas plants benefit from special tax deductions and policies that reward natural gas producers with access to cheap sources of capital. And Exelon's wind portfolio benefits from the same production tax credit the company is trying to end.
Since 1957, the company's nuclear plants also have benefited from a government intervention that limits its liability in the event of a nuclear disaster.
Exelon said in a statement that it now "believes the playing field should be leveled for all energy sources by phasing out all subsidies for utility-scale generation projects."
Exelon's lobbying efforts have not always gone smoothly.
In 2008, Rowe was leading a movement to tax carbon emitters. Had the legislation passed, Exelon would have added $1 billion annually to its cash flow, according to a filing by the company, whose nuclear fleet doesn't produce carbon emissions. Restrictions on carbon would have increased costs for other power producers.
The legislation never surfaced, under pressure largely from Republican legislators who said taxing carbon would lead to plant closures and wide-scale job losses.
In fact, Exelon under Rowe was so pro-nuclear that in 2008 it applied for a license to build a nuclear plant in Texas while pushing for larger government loan guarantees to finance the construction. Legislators in Washington, though, instead favored subsidies and loan guarantees for renewables.
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