Manchin: Don’t renew wind tax credit

After more than two decades of helping the industry grow, the federal government should stop subsidizing wind energy through the production tax credit, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said.

“It should go,” Manchin said Monday at a policy dinner hosted by The Hill. “Hell, your mother only carried you nine months,” he said, comparing the federal government’s support of wind power to pregnancy.

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Manchin said wind energy has become competitive with other sources in many areas of the country, and its costs have reached a point at which the tax break for producing it isn’t necessary.

“When production falls off, and we live in a market world if you will, we want people still to produce,” Manchin said. “What we’re never good at is that when things are good and the prices are high, we still give it to you.”

The tax credit expired last year, but many lawmakers want to reinstate it. The Senate Finance Committee has passed a package of tax break renewals that includes wind’s credit, but the full Senate has not taken up the measure yet.

Manchin said lawmakers shouldn’t “subsidize carte blanc across the board.”

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) disagreed. She said she would vote to reinstate the credit, but look in the future to phase it out, which she compared to a glide path.

“I believe that in certain situations, if you’re going to develop technology and you’re going to figure out how to deploy the technology into the real world, you need a glide path to do that,” Heitkamp said.

Heitkamp credited her support of the tax credit to her belief in an “all of the above” energy policy, which supports all sources of energy. She also said it is important to diversify energy sources.

“I think the production tax credit’s been an effective tool,” she said. “I think its time has not come yet to phase it out and I think that there will come a time.”