Wind lobby cites new poll in calling for PTC extension

Source: Nick Juliano, E&E reporter • Posted: Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The wind industry is citing results from a poll it commissioned to argue voters want Congress to extend the production tax credit before the end of this year as opponents continue to argue the incentive is too costly.

The American Wind Energy Association-commissioned poll found 73 percent of registered voters, including 63 percent of Republicans, said they would support “keeping the Production Tax Credit in place so that investment in wind energy can continue.” It also found that 79 percent of registered voters agreed with the statement “incentives for investment in wind energy help American workers make more of our own energy right here in America.”

“It’s time for Congress to do what the majority of Americans want — and that means extending the Production Tax Credit so we can keep scaling up this critically important American energy source,” AWEA President Tom Kiernan said in a statement.

The poll only asked two questions about the PTC, which provides $23 for every megawatt-hour of electricity generated by wind and other qualified renewable sources. Respondents were not asked to evaluate details of the PTC, such as its cost to taxpayers or the economic activity it supports. A two-year extension of the credit would cost $13 billion, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation, and industry supporters point out installations plummet as much as 90 percent when the credit is not in place.

Separately, PTC opponents released a report today reiterating the claim that the credit is too costly and ought to be eliminated. A new report from the Institute for Energy Research, a conservative think tank, says the cost of extending the credit for a decade could cover 142 million Americans’ electric bill for a month and that it rewards an intermittent and unreliable energy source that should have outgrown government support by now.

A bill the Senate Finance Committee adopted earlier this summer would have reinstated the PTC from the beginning of this year through 2015, along with more than 50 other temporary incentives known as tax extenders. House Republicans have called for the elimination of many of those breaks but also would like to see some made permanent, such as the research and development credit.

Conservative organizations such as Americans for Prosperity and the American Energy Alliance, all of which have been linked to the Koch brothers, have aggressively lobbied for the PTC to not be extended this year; the Institute for Energy Research is affiliated with the American Energy Alliance. But the credit retains support among Republicans from windy states such as Sens. Charles Grassley of Iowa and John Thune of South Dakota, and supporters remain optimistic it will be extended.

AWEA hired Gotham Research Group to conduct the survey of 1,015 adults, including 832 registered voters, from Thursday to Sunday; it has a 3.4-percentage-point margin of error.