Senators attempt to extend wind energy tax credit
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WASHINGTON, March 16, 2012- Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) is leading an effort to pass a bipartisan proposal for a two-year extension of the wind energy production tax credit scheduled to expire at the end of the year. Grassley and Senators Mark Udall (D-Colo.), Scott Brown (R-Mass.), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Dean Heller (R-Nev.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) support the legislation proposed yesterday.
“Tax reform efforts might modify or address this incentive in the near future, but the jobs and opportunities provided by wind energy should not be abandoned in the meantime,” Grassley said. ”Unemployment remains high at 8.3 percent and energy costs are on the rise. Congress should renew the wind energy tax credit to develop clean energy alternatives and good paying jobs.”
The tax credit, first enacted in 1992, provides a 2.2 cent per kilowatt-hour tax credit for the first ten years of electricity production from utility-scale turbines. The provision contributes to the “boom-bust” cycle the wind energy industry experiences, because the tax credit was extended and, alternatively, allowed to expire several times since its enactment. Grassley authored the first wind production tax credit in 1992 to give wind energy the ability to compete against coal-fired and nuclear energy.
The production tax credit (PTC) expires at the end of 2012, but manufacturers of wind energy say if it's not extended in the first quarter of this year, wind energy jobs could be cut in half. According to supporters of the extension, as many as 37,000 jobs nationwide could be lost without renewing the incentive. To date, domestic wind energy production includes more than 400 facilities in 43 states, growing 12-fold in the past six years, according to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA).
The production tax credit for wind “is essential for continuing the expansion of one of Iowa's most exciting sectors and creating and preserving jobs in our state,” said Grassley's Democrat counterpart, Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa).
Iowa, the second largest wind producing state behind Texas, generates 20 percent of its electricity from wind. Landowners, including many farmers, lease their land to host the 3,000 utility-scale turbines in the state. Grassley said the lease payments to landowners are worth more than $12 million every year and the industry employs approximately 3,000 Iowans. .
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