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WEST CHESTER TWP. – The 60 Plus Association, the Tea Party Nation Action and a former congressman are pushing Congress in its lame duck session to not pass the wind energy production tax credit, which they say will cost taxpayers billions.
The groups and former congressman Ernest Istook, as well as Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel, were part of a couple invitation-only event that discussed the Production Tax Credits that expired at the end of 2013. They were extended for last year as part of a congressional deal to avoid the “fiscal cliff.”
The Journal-News talked before the event with Istook as well as Amy Frederick, president of 60 Plus Association, and Judson Phillips, president and founder of the Tea Party Nation Action.
The Production Tax Credits were part of the Energy Policy Act of 1992. The goal was to support renewable energy, which includes wind energy, geothermal power, small hydro-power, biomass and landfill gas.
They said they fear that the lame duck session of Congress will consider renewing the credits – something Congress has done several times before – but this time make them permanent. They claim renewing the credits will cost tax payers billions of dollars to benefit a select few who invest in wind farms. Istook, who represented the 5th Oklahoma Congressional District for 14 years, said “sweet heart deals” are often made during a lame duck session and can be a “scary time” for tax payers.
“It’s not always dead until the credits run, and then there could always be a sequel,” said Phillips.
Congress will return to session after the Nov. 4 election.
Using the tax credits will be “forcing people to use expensive power,” said Istook. “Wind isn’t a productive energy source unless you capture a lot of it.”
Fredrick, whose group represents millions of senior nationwide and more than 300,000 in Ohio, said the population her organization represents can’t afford Congress to renew the tax credit.
“Ohio seniors, especially those living on fixed incomes, have been devastated these last few years by skyrocketing energy bills they must pay each month,” she said, adding that the country’s “most vulnerable” population pay a significant portion of their monthly income toward utility bills.
While Istook, Frederick and Phillips, and their supporters, are fighting to stop Congress from considering renewing the tax credits, and making them retroactive – something that has been done in the past – others are pushing for it.
Rob Gramlich, senior vice president of public policy with the American Wind Energy Association, testified in October 2013 before the House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Energy Policy, Healthcare and Entitlements.
He said for wind energy, the tax credit is only applied once a facility operating and allows a project owner to reduce his or her tax bill by 2.3 cents for every kilowatt hour of electricity produced over a 10-year period.
“Congress designed it as a performance-based incentive, such that the credit can be taken only if and when actual electricity is produced,” according to his testimony. “Allowing (the tax) to expire … will move us away from further diversification of our energy portfolio, take away opportunities for consumers to save money, dampen domestic manufacturing and innovation, and cause companies to hold off on investing in communities across America.”
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