Energy & Environment

GOP senator looks to end wind power subsidy

A Republican senator wants to end a key wind power tax credit once and for all. 

Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) introduced a bill Wednesday to end certain renewable energy tax credits, including the Production Tax Credit (PTC) used by the wind power industry.

{mosads}The PTC for wind lapsed at the beginning of the year, but the industry and lawmakers are looking to retroactively extend it this session. 

Lankford’s bill would prevent that from happening, sunsetting the tax credit permanently and removing it from the tax code. 

In a statement, he said the wind industry has grown so much that a tax credit for it isn’t necessary anymore.

“I am a fan of an all-of-the-above energy strategy, and I certainly support wind as a large part of that goal,” he said. 

“The wind industry has made major strides over the past two decades, and they have proven their industry to be efficient and self-sustainable. There is no need for the taxpayer to continue to subsidize a wind start-up tax credit.”

A spokesman for the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) said the bill, which would end the tax credit for current wind producers, is essentially a “retroactive tax increase for some companies.”

The Senate Finance Committee voted 23-3 in July to extend for two years the 2.3 cents per kilowatt-hour production tax credit for wind projects under construction before the end of 2016. The committee estimated the provision to cost $10.5 billion over 10 years. 

The tax credit tends to find some bipartisan support both in Congress and the states. The Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition, for example, is chaired by Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) and co-chaired by Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (R). 

Clean energy advocates and the wind power industry also support extending the tax credit, saying such a measure is important to providing stability for the growing sector. 

The AWEA, in a September study, said keeping the tax credit on the books would help drive down future costs related to wind power generation and eventually lead to cost parity with other sources of energy. 

“The PTC has been an effective, market-based policy that has enabled renewable energy development to meet the demands of American consumers,” the study concluded. 

“While successful, however, the policy is still needed to encourage private sector investment in an industry that is still a relative newcomer when compared to traditional sources of energy.”

—This post was updated at 6:53 p.m.

Tags American Wind Energy Association James Lankford wind energy wind production tax credit

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