47 House Republicans urge Boehner to let tax credit die

Source: John McArdle, E&E reporter • Posted: Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Forty-seven House Republicans are calling for an end to the federal production tax credit for wind energy, invoking the failed Solyndra solar energy company to decry the subsidy as another Obama administration green energy handout that picks winners and losers.

The group, led by Kansas Rep. Mike Pompeo — a vocal opponent of all forms of energy subsidies — submitted a letter to Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Friday urging him to allow the PTC to expire by the end of the year as scheduled.

House leaders are contemplating an end-of-the-year package that could include a number of tax extenders, including the PTC, which provides wind developers a 2.2-cent-per-kilowatt-hour tax credit. If a deal can be reached in the House Ways and Means Committee, a bill could be taken up by a lame-duck session of Congress.

But Pompeo’s group — which includes a number of senior Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee but no members of the Ways and Means Committee — argued that energy handouts need to be reined in and that the wind market should be allowed to succeed or fail on its own.

“We believe that the Solyndra scandal had demonstrated that it is time for the federal government to stop picking winners and losers in the energy marketplace,” the lawmakers said in their letter, referring to the ongoing controversy surrounding the much-maligned Department of Energy loan guarantee program. “Twenty years of subsidizing wind is more than enough.”

The PTC extension fight has made its way to the presidential campaign trial. But while President Obama supports an extension and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has come out against it, the issue doesn’t break down strictly along party lines.

Republicans from windy states, such as Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley and Colorado Reps. Cory Gardner and Scott Tipton, have fought to keep the tax credit in place.

Previous lapses in the PTC, which was first established in 1992, have caused deployment of wind turbines to nearly disappear, and industry backers say the economic pain would be even more acute this year because of significant growth in U.S.-based manufacturing of turbine components.

“An immediate extension of the PTC is urgently needed in order to continue this success story,” said Ellen Carey, a spokeswoman for the American Wind Energy Association. “We’ve always said we won’t need the PTC forever, and the industry is committed to discussing options for the future in the context of corporate tax reform starting next year. Right now we need an immediate one-year extension to save 37,000 jobs that Navigant Consulting says will be lost otherwise by the first quarter of 2013.”


Click here to read the letter.