Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
November 29, 2015

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.”

  • funkengruven

    I’m against a tax on breaking wind.

  • Standandfight

    Somebody made off with a but load of tax payers money.

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  • David Ward

    With the tax credit in place American wind power attracts up to $25 billion a year to our national economy. By extending the tax credit, we will extend a policy that works and more than pays for itself over the life of wind farm projects in local, state, and federal taxes. Also with the PTC in place, wind power costs have dropped 43 percent in the last five years and 72 percent of a wind turbine’s value is now Made in the USA. And wind turbine parts and supplies are made in over 550 manufacturing facilities across 44 states.

    The Department of Energy (DOE) has envisioned with smart, long-term policies in place wind power can support over 500,000 jobs by 2030 as wind power grows to supply the U.S. with 20 percent of its electricity needs. Reliable wind power already provides 20 percent of the electricity needs in Iowa and South Dakota and more than 10 percent of the electricity needs in nine states overall. Other states are catching up. And DOE data show consumers in states with the most wind power have saved the most money on their electric bills.

    Let’s continue this American success story and expand this clean, affordable, homegrown product.

    David Ward, AWEA

    • Jim


      They’re still inefficient and unpredictable sources for power. Most of them operate at less than 1/3 of name plate capacity. Reliable indeed! And they still have to be located remotely requiring miles and miles of power lines. Further environmental destruction. Your statements on how much they supply to different areas aren’t accurate assessments of what is going on as there still has to be back up power generation to fill in the gaps that occur in wind production due to the intermittency of wind power. Not one lump of coal has been spared an end in a furnace because of wind power’s “success.”

      The money savings is laughable too as you don’t seem to be including the truck loads of cash coming out of the tax payer’s pockets. The very same folks paying the electric bills.

      If wind was such a great deal it’d be standing on its own. Unfortunately it must have subsidies to be profitable or you wouldn’t be here trumpeting the virtues of wind. Face it, if it weren’t for tax payer subsidies AWEA would not be pouring its own money down the toilet. But the AWEA is thrilled to have access to tax payer money to pour down the toilet. $12 billion to be exact over the next ten years.

      The claim that wind has reduced carbon emissions is also questionable. They’ve actually risen in the last year by 2% (2013). The decline in previous years was due to a lot of factors, wind energy not being one. The economy for starters cut consumption. So did the shale gas boom.

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