Alexander: Stop wasting taxpayer dollars on wind energy tax break

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said Congress should not renew the wind energy tax credit. Instead he said the money would be better spent reducing the federal debt.

“The massive taxpayer subsidy to windmill developers expired Jan. 1,” Alexander said. “A good way to celebrate the New Year would be to not renew it and to reduce the federal debt by $60 billion, an amount about equal to the spending in the recent budget agreement.”

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Alexander argued that the tax break is outdated since the wind industry is now fully developed. He also said wind turbines are a “scar on the landscape.”

“At least in our part of the country, windmills are a huge scar on the landscape — you can see their flashing lights for 20 miles,” Alexander said. “You would have to stretch wind turbines the entire length of the Appalachian Trail, from Maine to Georgia, to equal the power produced by eight nuclear plants on one square mile each.”

Tennessee is home to a nuclear power plant and the state also produces coal.

Lawmakers will consider a deal to extend certain tax breaks that expired at the end of the year. If a package were passed, the tax breaks would be reinstated retroactively.

The wind energy tax credit costs nearly $6 billion a year. Alexander said if Congress renews the tax credit for the next 10 years, that would equal how much the budget deal increased spending levels.

"For the next 10 years, extending the tax credit one year at a time could cost $60 billion or more, based on the most recent data from The Joint Committee on Taxation, about enough to pay for the $63 billion Congress spent in the recently passed budget agreement,” Alexander said.

Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) is one of the leading advocates for renewing the wind production tax credit. Colorado is a leading state in wind energy production.

This article was updated at 3:45 p.m.

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