Kansas delegation differs on wind tax credits
Credit: By Ken Ward, staff writer, The McPherson Sentinel, www.mcphersonsentinel.com 1 March 2012 ~~
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McPherson, Kan. – McPherson’s representatives to the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate are at odds over the future of tax credits to wind energy producers.
Sen. Jerry Moran has publicly announced his support for the renewal of wind energy production tax credits, which are set to expire at the end of the year. Meanwhile, 1st Dist. Rep. Tim Huelskamp has stated his opposition to the renewal of such tax credits, and Sen. Pat Roberts has yet to come out strongly in support or opposition to their renewal.
In a bipartisan letter co-written with 11 other senators to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Moran said the elimination of the credits would “destabilize an industry just before it completes its transformation to being cost competitive in the marketplace.”
Moran is not alone; Kansas’ neighbors also have been vocal in their support of the renewal of the credits. The entire Iowa delegation to Washington sent a letter to congressional leaders supporting the renewal of the credits, and seven of Colorado’s delegates sent a similar letter.
Gov. Sam Brownback also has petitioned for the renewal of the tax credits in a letter co-written by Iowa Gov. Terry E. Branstad. In that letter, Brownback hailed wind energy production tax credits as successful tax policy and supportive of a domestic, “all of the above” energy strategy.
Huelskamp, however, has come out against the credits. At a Town Hall meeting last week in McPherson, Huelskamp told a farmer currently benefiting from the credits that he intends to allow them to expire at the end of the year.
“If you’re not going to be competitive in the marketplace, we can’t afford to keep supporting you,” he said of the wind energy production industry, accusing Congress of picking “winners and losers” by using public money to support development in the industry.
Wind energy production tax credits provide a 2.2 cent per kilowatt-hour tax credit to producers for the first 10 years of electricity production on commercial turbines. In theory, that tax break allows wind energy producers to reinvest their savings into other renewable energy ventures.
The wind energy tax credits were introduced in 1992, not gaining widespread use by producers until the mid-2000s. In the past, investment in commercial wind energy production has dropped sharply in years leading up to the scheduled expiration of the tax credits, jumping back up soon after their renewal.
Lawmakers have yet to come to a consensus as to how long the credits should be renewed for. Some argue they should be extended for another four years, while others think they should only be renewed through 2013. Others still, like Rep. Huelskamp, think they should be retired altogether.
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