Wind energy tax credit stalls in US Senate

May 16, 2014 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

KUSA – The US Senators from Colorado are hoping to salvage a renewal of the wind production tax credit, a policy that is bundled into a bill that stalled on Thursday in a procedural move.

The wind credit is a source of controversy which some politicians decry as wasteful and unnecessary.

The senators from Colorado beg to differ.

For them, this is about the four manufacturing plants in Colorado owned by Vestas, which makes wind turbines and employs nearly 2,000 people.

“These are good, American, high-paying jobs,” said Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colorado,) who approached 9NEWS together with Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colorado) for an interview about the credit.

Vestas announced last month that it planned to bring 850 new jobs to Colorado this year.

When asked whether the company is relying on a renewal of the credit, which expired in December of last year, to fund those jobs, Udall replied “I think [the creation of new jobs] is going to happen anyway, but [the tax credit] would add a real supercharged element to their plans.”

The tax credit goes to wind farms for the energy their turbines produce. Wind projects under construction by the end of 2015 would get the credit for ten years.

It’s a big incentive, which leads wind project investors to buy more turbines from Vestas.

“When we’ve let the production tax credit languish, then you have seen this drawback,” said Udall, referencing past layoffs by turbine makers.

“For this to be able to be an industry that continues to grow and endure, they’ve got to have predictability and that’s what re-authorizing the wind production tax credit would give them,” Bennet said.

Some Republicans disagree.

“Do we really need a ninth extension,” asked Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Arizona.) “Wind power generation is no longer an infant industry. It’s no longer in need of federal support.”

Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colorado,) who is running to unseat Udall, supports extending the wind tax credit.

His campaign says he wants a temporary extension that will be phased out in the future and a plan to pay for the cost of the credit while it is in place.

That puts him at odds with some of his big supporters like Americans for Prosperity, a group with ties to the oil industry that is currently running TV ads in Colorado on Gardner’s behalf.

The group calls the credit “wasteful” and “corporate welfare.”

For the moment, AFP is getting its way as a vote on the issue has stalled.

Udall indicated that he’d like the wind credit to become permanent, citing producers of other energy sources which have long enjoyed tax breaks under federal law.

(KUSA-TV © 2014 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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