A recently renewed wind power credit could face more scrutiny next Congress, as House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said Wednesday that the credit is of “serious interest" to his committee.
Issa criticized a "dramatic" alteration to the credit that he said amounted to an expansion of the program.
“In 24 hours the heavily subsidized wind industry has gone from the verge of collapse to a modern-day Gold Rush. H.R. 8 seems to create a perverse incentive to rush production of additional facilities even when there may not be adequate demand for wind, biomass, or geothermal energy,” Issa told The Hill in a statement.
The House and the Senate agreed Tuesday to extend a 2.2 cent per kilowatt-hour credit for wind power production through this year as part of the "fiscal cliff" deal. It also changed the incentive to let wind projects earn the credit if under construction — rather than in service — by the end of the year.
Issa's comment signals that the wind industry’s next battle — securing a long-term phase-out for the credit — could face significant hurdles.
The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) in December floated extending the credit one year, then ramping it down to end after 2018.
The group wants more stability for the industry, as the uncertainty that clouded the credit’s future led to layoffs and a drop in planned investment for this year.
But as Congress settles into possible tax code overhaul talks, whether the AWEA can get what it wants remains to be seen.
Some fiscal conservatives wanted Congress to let the credit end when it expired at midnight Tuesday. They said the extension and the change to the credit was too costly, coming in at $12.1 billion through 10 years.
Issa said the incentive’s renewal and change falls under the committee’s “ongoing oversight of the federal government’s excessive and wasteful spending.”
Separately Wednesday, Issa created a new Energy subcommittee, intimating his committee would get more involved in energy issues next Congress. Read more on that here.