A left-to-right coalition of senators is pressing GOP and Democratic leaders to quickly extend tax credits for wind power projects that are slated to lapse at year’s end. “The future of the American wind industry requires a stable tax environment in which to operate,” states the bipartisan Feb. 22 letter from a dozen senators to Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
Senators, including John Kerry and Scott Brown, are urging government officials to reauthorize a production tax credit for wind energy projects that is set to expire at the end of the year.
President Obama, confronted by the political perils of surging gas prices in an election year, on Thursday defended his efforts to wean the United States off imported oil, even as he conceded there was little he could do in the short run to ease the pain at the pump. Speaking to students at the University of Miami, in a swing state where gas averages $3.69 a gallon, Mr. Obama said: “Just like last year, gas prices are climbing across the country; this time, it’s happening even earlier. And when gas prices go up, it hurts everybody.”
Pennsylvania, one of the nation’s premier coal states, is promoting wind energy under a new partnership that seeks to expand the state’s wind portfolio to as much as 6 percent of total generation over the coming years. The initiative, known as ChoosePAWind, launched yesterday with a website portal providing businesses and consumers with information about what companies and institutions are investing in wind power across the commonwealth, as well as how and where to purchase electricity generated by Pennsylvania turbines.
The Obama administration today proposed overhauling the corporate tax code and lowering the top corporate income tax rate from 35 percent to 28 percent as long as the effort is paid for by slashing tax credits and closing loopholes — including many of the oil and gas industry breaks that the White House has targeted in the past. The proposal — which would also set the top tax rate for domestic manufacturers at 25 percent and preserve tax credits for research and development and clean energy — would be the first major reform of the corporate tax code in decades.
To understand the impact of wind power’s key federal Production Tax Credit (PTC), Congress need look no further than the small town of Newton, Iowa. Manufacturing roots run deep in Newton, which was once home to Maytag appliances. A few years ago, the Maytag plant closed, leaving some 3,000 people out of work and sending economic shock waves through the town of 16,000.
Some Democratic and Republican lawmakers still aren’t giving up on extending the wind production tax credit, which expires at the end of the year. Supporters had hoped an extension could be included in the payroll tax cut deal that cleared Congress on Friday, probably the last must-pass bill of the year. Now they’re looking for other opportunities.
The Texas wind boom has prompted a big increase in the number of wind turbine parts passing through the Port of Houston. In 2011, 55,800 tons of wind equipment sailed into Houston from foreign ports, nearly twice the tonnage from the previous year.
When Maryland lawmakers return this week to a debate about offshore wind power, talk likely will focus on the minutiae of how much a subsidy for the fledgling industry will cost ratepayers. “I have been working on clean-energy issues for the last 10 years, and I have never seen an issue that mobilizes and captures the imagination of the public as much,” Mike Tidwell, president of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, recently told a gathering of green-energy financiers meeting in the District. “In offshore wind, you’ve got a solution that strikes the average person as sufficient to the scale of the problem. You’ve got something visionary, something large, something that looks and feels like the future.”
Wind energy has long been seen as a tremendous but untapped opportunity to help rural Nebraska communities, ranchers and farmers, who lease out their land for the giant wind turbines. As of January, neighboring Iowa had 4,322 megawatts of wind energy capacity, according to the American Wind Energy Association — ranking second nationally, behind only Texas.