Since 1999, federal energy subsidies have more than doubled—from $8.2 billion to $16.6 billion in 2007. Who gets the most? “Renewables” landed $4.8 billion last year, but that includes $3.25 billion for ethanol and other biofuels. Coal and cleaner-burning “refined” coal took home $3.3 billion, while the nuclear power industry got $1.3 billion. In all, about 40% of the energy subsidy pie went toward electricity production; the rest for things like alternative fuels and energy conservation.
...But the raw numbers don’t tell the story. What does is how much cash the government hands out per unit of electricity produced. The winner there is refined coal, at $29.81 per megawatt hour. That’s even more than solar power ($24.34) or wind ($23.37). Nuclear power received $1.59 per megawatt hour. Regular coal took home $0.44 per megawatt hour, while the least-subsidized of power fuels was natural gas, which got just a $0.25 boost per megawatt hour.
The Wall Street Journal's excellent blog, Environmental Capital, takes a look at the federal energy subsidy pie and asks, Who's getting what?