Battle in Iowa Over Wind Production Tax Credit


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Congressman Steve King (R-IA) and Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) have came out in support of the Wind Production Tax Credit in a press conference held yesterday with Senator Mark Udall (D-CO),  Congressman Jerry McNerney (D-CA) and 40 veterans some of whom have found work in the wind energy industry.

Congressman King said in a statement yesterday, “Now is the time to offer predictability to this vibrant industry. Government has to be engaged in wind energy to provide the market access that all other renewable fuels received when first entering the marketplace. Until wind gets market access, there is no competition for cost. Government must provide the incentive for people to risk capital until the wind industry can provide it on its own.”

“The production tax credit for wind is working and should be part of the effort in Washington to help get more Americans – and more veterans – working,” Grassley said. “Certainty about tax policy and affordable energy are factors for economic growth, and as much energy as possible – both traditional and renewable – should be produced at home to create jobs and strengthen economic and national security.  There’s no reason to exacerbate the unemployment problem by letting this successful incentive lapse.”

In August, the Senate Finance Committee, with a bipartisan vote, passed an amendment authored by Grassley to extend the wind energy production tax credit.  Legislation in the House of Representatives to extend the production tax credit for wind has 118 cosponsors, both Democrats and Republicans.

Not everyone is happy with their support.   Americans for Prosperity – Iowa took aim at comments by Senator Grassley and Representative Steve King in support of the Wind Production Tax Credit. In a press release today they noted that the credit has been around since 1992 and, if renewed this year, will cost taxpayers $12 billion in 2013 alone.

“Iowa’s elected officials must have a different definition of ‘mature industry’ when they praise the handout-dependent, 20-year coddled wind energy industry,” said Mark Lucas, Iowa state director of Americans for Prosperity. “Of course, the irony is that if it was mature and if the tax credit was a profitable investment, wind energy would have shown improvements long ago. It hasn’t, yet taxpayers are still lining the pockets of wind energy executives and their slick Washington lobbyists.”

Lucas notes that wind energy currently accounts for only 3 percent of American electrical power, despite receiving a special tax break since 1992. In 2010, wind energy received 40 percent of the federal government’s total support for electrical power.  Nationwide, wind-energy production supports 75,000 jobs.  In Iowa however, the wind energy industry employs nearly 5,000 full-time workers, with a number of major wind manufacturing facilities.  Iowa generates 20 percent of its electricity needs from wind, and wind energy powers the equivalent of a million homes.  Almost 3,000 utility-scale turbines in Iowa generate lease payments to landowners worth $12.5 million every year.

Grassley said the production tax credit for wind is available only when wind energy is produced.  There’s no benefit for simply placing the turbine in the ground.  “It’s tax relief that rewards results,” Grassley said.  “That’s much different than failed taxpayer-funded grants and loans made since 2009.”  The senator said wind energy detractors have blurred the distinction in efforts to undercut wind as a source of clean electricity.

“Taxpayer subsidies for Washington’s favored energy policies only distort the market and drive up energy costs,” Lucas added. “The Wind PTC has long outlived its promise. It’s time for the Iowa delegation to stand up for taxpayers and say no to the wind industry lobbyists when they come asking for the 21st year of corporate welfare.”

Americans for Prosperity has led the effort against green energy bets such as the Wind PTC, with over 10,000 AFP activists contacting their federal representatives in support of ending the credit. Mark Lucas sent a letter on behalf of the organization in September 2012 to the Iowa federal Congressional delegation urging them to repeal it. AFP nationally leads a coalition of 88 organizations across the country in support of ending Wind PTC.

Grassley said that wind energy production tax credit was created to try to level the playing field with coal-fired and nuclear electricity generation.  He noted that if the wind incentive is allowed to lapse on December 31, wind energy would be the only form of energy generation without any federal incentive.