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Sparring resumes over wind tax breaks

Senators are lining up to renew old saws about reviving lapsed tax breaks – for whenever the Senate gets around to addressing them.

Take as just one example the wind energy tax credits. On Friday morning, 26 senators fired off a letter to Finance Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and ranking member Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah, calling for renewal of the production tax credit and the investment tax credit in this year’s extender’s package.

Sens. Mark Udall, D-Colo., and Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, are again leading the effort in support of the wind farm business.

“The American wind industry’s growth, its cost competitiveness and its creation of American jobs have been partially driven by successful, bi-partisan federal tax policy, namely the PTC and the ITC. Unfortunately, as you know, these credits expired at the end of 2013,” the 26 senators wrote.

“Like all businesses, the wind industry seeks certainty and predictability so that long term project decisions and investments can be made. Without that stability, we once again risk losing many of the jobs, infrastructure and investment that the wind industry has created,” they added. “Furthermore, we risk weakening our national energy security by failing to foster such an important source of clean, domestic energy.”

A group of 118 House supporters have also written a letter to Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio.

But every tax credit has its detractors. In the case of wind, there may be no more vocal Senate opponent than Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.

“In 2013, when Congress extended this subsidy for one year, it was estimated to cost taxpayers $12 billion over 10 years. The wind subsidy is a colossal, unjustified waste of taxpayer dollars at a time when the nation has an unsustainable debt. The subsidy is so large that it allows wind developers in some markets to literally give away their electricity,” Alexander said in an emailed statement. “This in turn is forcing utilities to shut down nuclear plants and coal plants. After 20 years, there is no excuse for continuing to extend this subsidy of a mature technology, which was intended to jumpstart an industry.”