Groups pressure GOP to end wind subsidies

Source: By KYLE FELDSCHER, Washington Examiner • Posted: Thursday, September 17, 2015

Conservative groups this week pushed Congress to end tax credits that are subsidizing wind energy, and said taking this step could be a way to stop new carbon regulations proposed by President Obama, since doing so would expose wind energy’s true costs.

In a letter addressed to Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and other House leaders, the American Energy Alliance, Heritage Action for America, Club for Growth and Americans for Prosperity said the wind production tax credit hides the true cost of the new regulations announced last month by the Environmental Protection Agency. They also argued that the industry is mature and shouldn’t need subsidies at this point, and said the subisdies are just hiding the huge costs of this power source.

“Wind energy is one of the most expensive sources of electricity: Power from new wind resources is nearly four times more expensive than from existing nuclear and nearly three times more expensive than from existing coal,” the letter states. “Perhaps the most significant thing this Congress can do to protect ratepayers and taxpayers from the damage of the president’s carbon regulation is preventing another extension of the wind PTC.”

The tax credits are currently up for consideration in the House Ways and Means Committee, chaired by Ryan. The Senate Finance Committee voted overwhelmingly in July to extend the credits through 2016, but the proposal has yet to be taken up by the full Senate.

The Wind Production Tax Credit was first instituted in 1992 and has been renewed nine times. It expired at the end of 2014 for all construction projects not underway before Jan. 1, 2015.

The letter implied the four organizations could put negative marks on their legislative scorecards for representatives on the Ways and Means Committee who vote to extend the credits. It also said the committee could show a commitment to tax reform by ending the credit.

“For years, this committee has touted the economic benefits of reforming and condensing our bloated tax system,” the letter stated. “The economic benefits of ending the wind (tax credit) are apparent, as wind energy raises electricity costs compared to existing resources.”

But as members of the House debate whether to end the tax credits, the governors of Washington and Iowa have reached out to senators in an effort to undo a proposed funding cut to the Department of Energy’s wind energy research.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, and Republican Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad co-signed a letter sent Tuesday to Sens. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., and Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., urging them to reconsider cuts to wind energy and research to the tune of $61 million. The Senate Appropriations Committee approved that cut in May.

The governors, who are the the chair and vice chair of the Governors Wind Energy Coalition, wrote that the cut singles out wind energy in an unfair way.

“The terse language on wind energy in the bill conveys a message that the U.S. Senate has summarily dismissed land-based wind power,” the governors wrote. “Given wind’s success to date and its extensive benefits to the nation — as quantified in DOE’s recently released Wind Vision Report — we believe that such a message is unwarranted.”

The governors also wrote about their displeasure with the elimination of $4.8 million in funding for the Department of Energy’s Wind Program. That program helped modernize energy grids and make other adjustments to allow wind energy into the nation’s electrical system. They said that without that program, it will be more difficult to get more renewable energy into the nation’s electrical system.

“Public and private investments in a strong and smart electrical transmission system are critical to moving the nation toward a more secure and efficient energy future,” their letter stated.

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