U.S. Rep. Mike Pompeo affirmed Wednesday growing support for withdrawal of federal tax credits responsible for driving investment in Kansas wind farms but that distort the energy marketplace.
Pompeo, a Republican congressman from Wichita, said wrapping wind production in benefits delivered by the Internal Revenue Service were an intrusion in the domestic economy. At least 50 House members agree with Pompeo, but dissent exists among members of the Kansas congressional delegation and runs counter to the approach sought by Gov. Sam Brownback.
“There’s lots of Republicans who have a different view of that here in Washington, and I’m working to try convince them we’ll be far better off when we get the tax code out of trying to pick amongst winners and losers,” Pompeo said in a conference call from Washington, D.C.
Congress initiated the wind energy production tax credit in 1992 and renewed it for 2013 as part of a fiscal cliff budget deal. It provides utility-scale wind producers 2.2 cents per kilowatt hour.
Tax-writing committees in Congress have yet to consider extension of the credit beyond Dec. 31.
“It expires at the end of the year, and I’m urging my colleagues to simply let it happen,” Pompeo said.
Brownback, who was part of a national coalition last year that successfully pressed for preservation of the tax benefit, continues to believe the federal government should offer the credit to enhance domestic wind development. He believes the credit ought to be gradually reduced as the wind industry expands capacity and transmission ability.
U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., said in an interview Wednesday wind farming in Kansas served economic interests of rural areas of the state and advanced national security goals related to energy independence.
“I support the production tax credit,” Moran said. “We believe it makes our country more safe and secure.”
U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., in the past joined Moran in backing extension of the credit, but Pompeo found allies among Kansas GOP Reps. Tim Huelskamp, Lynn Jenkins and Kevin Yoder.
On the strength of the tax credit, Kansas became a leader in wind energy development as the industry invested nearly $3 billion in the state during 2011 and 2012.
Pompeo said the free market rather than tax policy should determine where wind turbines were located in the United States.
“There are places where wind energy will work very, very well,” he said. “Some of those are in Kansas. We need every single energy source developing electricity capacity all across America for the decades to come.”
In the past, Pompeo criticized the wind industry lobby for making tax credit phase-out proposals that didn’t meet the “laugh test.”
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