Jeb Bush calls for phasing out wind tax credit 

Source: Amanda Peterka, E&E reporter • Posted: Monday, March 9, 2015

DES MOINES, Iowa — Republican presidential hopeful Jeb Bush this weekend said he favors phasing out the wind industry’s production tax credit.

The former governor of Florida told a crowd here Saturday that he would phase out the $23-per-megawatt-hour incentive over a period of three to five years. Wind power, he said, is “very close” to being competitive as an energy source and no longer needing the support provided by the tax credit.

“Do it over a three- to five-year period,” Bush said. “Be certain about it: Say this is as long as we need to be competitive to create a diverse feedstock for power generation.”

Bush addressed his remarks to a crowd of agriculture-industry supporters at the first Iowa Agriculture Summit here in Des Moines. The trip was Bush’s first foray into Iowa during the 2016 presidential season.

The wind production tax credit, first put into place in 1992, has helped drive the growth of the wind power industry in Iowa and is supported by the state’s congressional delegation.

Congress allowed the tax credit to lapse at the beginning of the year, and industry supporters hope to see a longer-term extension or phaseout of the credit included in a comprehensive tax reform measure or a package extending several renewable energy tax incentives.

Bush said he believes the tax credit is an example of “how government works” and that it will soon be time for the market to take over.

“In this case, there was a good incentive. It was put in place for 15 to 20 years. It worked,” Bush said.

“At some point, it makes some sense [to phase it out] if you believe in markets working,” he said.

The summit drew other potential Republican presidential contenders, including New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, former New York Gov. George Pataki, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

Several other presidential hopefuls weighed in on the production tax credit. Pataki advocated getting rid of it but said that the government should work more with the industry to improve storage of energy generated by wind.

Huckabee did not call for its elimination but said he would be wary of automatically extending the incentive program without a sharp look at whether it is still needed.

“I think it needs to be debated,” Huckabee said, adding that no government programs should be given “unquestionable life.”