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Tax credit for wind power

“A Pushback on Green Power” (Business Day, May 29) explores an important policy debate – how to balance our environmental and economic goals.

Federal subsidies for renewables like the wind production tax credit need to end. If we transcend the partisan debate on renewable energy subsidies and take an objective look at this tax credit, it’s clear that its time is over.

I was in the Senate when the tax credit was enacted more than 20 years ago. It provides a $23 credit to wind generators for every megawatt hour of energy produced. The subsidy was never intended to be permanent; rather, it was meant to support a then-nascent industry. Wind has expanded tenfold in the last 10 years alone, and Steven Chu, a former secretary of energy, has stated that it is a “mature” technology.

No one who was a part of the subsidy’s inception could have envisioned that it would be renewed seven times – or that it would actually be benefiting large multinational corporations, and not small, homegrown businesses.

As the Senate considers the credit’s extension, it should keep in mind the estimated $13 billion that this would cost American taxpayers. It’s time to end it. Wind can and should compete on its own.

Washington, June 2, 2014

The writer was a Republican senator from Oklahoma from 1981 to 2005.