Alexander asks EPA to scrap award program for wind

Source: Hannah Hess, E&E reporter • Posted: Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Sen. Lamar Alexander today urged U.S. EPA to scrap a proposed voluntary program to award states for “zero-emitting” renewable energy projects, including wind, under the Clean Power Plan.

The Tennessee Republican, who has waged war against federal support for wind energy, wrote to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy to express serious concern about the Clean Energy Incentive Program that the agency proposed earlier this summer (E&ENews PM, June 16).

Under the proposal, EPA would dole out a pool of allowances and emissions rate credits equal to 300 million short tons of carbon dioxide to participating jurisdictions. The agency has outlined criteria for types of renewable energy and energy efficiency projects that would be eligible, expanding the list of projects for which states could receive credit.

Alexander asked the Obama administration to reconsider the proposal, his latest move in a longstanding mission to end federal subsidies for wind energy, which Alexander calls a mature technology that no longer deserves the production tax credit. Lawmakers extended the credit for five years in last year’s spending and tax deal.

Alexander also pointed out that the proposal fails to provide any incentive for nuclear energy — a power source he favors and has advocated for as chairman of the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee (E&E Daily, May 19).

“Wind developers have been getting rich on the backs of taxpayers and the wind production tax credit for over two decades, and there is no reason they should receive additional incentives to build unreliable and unsightly wind turbines,” Alexander wrote in his letter to McCarthy.

An EPA spokeswoman confirmed to E&ENews PM that the agency has received the letter and plans to review and respond to it.

Alexander warned that wind power producers could sell EPA’s proposed emission rate credits to other carbon-emitting power producers.

The senator introduced legislation last month to boost energy research by phasing out renewable energy tax credits. His bill would end the production tax credit for wind by Jan. 1 and send the money to the Department of Energy’s Office of Science (E&E Daily, July 13).