Leaders Concerned About Wind Energy Policy

June 1, 2012 by  
Filed under Green Energy News


An expiring energy tax credit could cripple wind energy development in South Dakota, at least for a time industry leaders say.

Communities across KELOLAND are showing how they could be affected if wind energy development slows.

Aberdeen made its pitch to extend the production tax credit on Thursday.

Wind energy is a major power in the Aberdeen economy. Community leaders only want to see it grow.

“It’s a program that allows our young people to stay in South Dakota, be employed in good quality jobs and be in a place where they want to remain,” Aberdeen Development Corporation representative Jim Barringer said.

Given a wind blade manufacturer in town says it pays more than $16 million in total payroll, Barringer says wants to see the wind industry strong.

Dave Giovannini is general manager of the wind plant and says the production tax credit has lapsed three times in history and each time the industry has dropped more than 70 percent.

Communities could lose a lot if the industry slows and Giovannini says the wind industry employs about 100,000 people in the U.S.

“So, 70 or 80 percent drop in the following year could be catastrophic,” Giovannini said.

The South Dakota Wind Energy Association says, in addition to Aberdeen, companies in Mitchell, Sioux Falls and Howard could be directly impacted. And developers would pull out of the state rather than build wind farms, something that’s already been happening.

That’s why community leaders in KELOLAND want Washington to move fast.

“It’s important for a lot of reasons that we do from a timing standpoint,” Sen. John Thune said. “The industry really needs some certainty. It’s hard for investors to continue to invest in wind energy when they don’t know what the rules are going to be.”

Giovannini says the industry needs to make a decision, even if it’s to phase the tax credit out so it can plan moving forward.

Thune says there’s a chance Congress will act on this and other tax legislation by the end of summer or beginning of fall. He says if that doesn’t happen, it might not be addressed until the end of the year.

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