Governors urge Congress to renew wind energy tax credit 

Source: Daniel Bush, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, May 28, 2015

Two prominent wind energy supporters are reviving the industry’s campaign to renew the federal production tax credit that expired last year.

In a letter to top lawmakers in the House and Senate, Govs. Jay Inslee (D) of Washington and Terry Branstad (R) of Iowa, who lead the Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition, called for a “multi-year” extension of the PTC, which provides wind energy developers with a rebate of 2.3 cents per kilowatt-hour for the first 10 years of a wind farm’s existence. The tax credit was briefly renewed and then allowed to expire at the end of 2014.

Extending tax credits for renewable energy would create new jobs and make wind competitive with oil, gas and other traditional energy sources, Inslee and Branstad wrote in the letter, which was released yesterday and addressed to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and their Democratic counterparts.

“These tax credits have made possible the robust growth of the American wind industry and thousands of renewable energy jobs in recent years, with substantial economic returns to our states and the nation,” the letter said.

The American Wind Energy Association and other wind power advocates credit last year’s short-term extension of the PTC with helping the industry rebound from a lackluster 2013, when a debate over the subsidy stymied growth across much of the sector.

Wind developers added nearly 5,000 megawatts of power in 2014, a 400 percent increase over 2013, according to a report released by AWEA last month. Wind now accounts for 6.2 percent of overall installed power capacity, the report said.

Still, the industry can’t sustain that growth rate without help from the federal government, Inslee and Branstad wrote. “The domestic wind manufacturing industry is likely to stagnate over the next decade without the PTC,” they said.

But while the governors argued that there is “strong bipartisan support” for the tax credit on Capitol Hill, many Republicans remain opposed to the PTC, suggesting that efforts to renew it face an uphill climb.

Last month, Reps. Kenny Marchant (R-Texas) and Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) introduced legislation that would reduce the tax credit’s value for wind farms that currently benefit from the rebate and prevent future extensions.