Is Wind Industry Running Out Of Breath?

Iowa Farm Scene

Iowa officials are pushing hard for extension of federal tax credit for production of wind energy

Published on: November 13, 2012
Countering that argument, Branstad and Grassley pointed out that the wind energy tax credit is very small compared to the huge tax breaks and government subsidies the coal and nuclear industries receive and have received for many, many years. Coal and nuclear, as industries that are well-established for generating electrical power in the U.S., have received various subsidies and tax breaks for a lot longer period of time.

There is bipartisan support for extending the production tax credit for wind energy
The group of wind energy supporters who spoke via the press conference in Washington on November 13 was a bipartisan group of four governors and a U.S. senator. They urged Congress to extend the production tax credit for wind energy, one of a number of tax incentives scheduled to expire at the end of the year. Gov. Terry Branstad, R-Iowa, joined Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, on Capitol Hill for that news conference which Govs. John Kitzhaber, D-Ore., Sam Brownback, R-Kansas and John Hickenlooper, D-Colo. joined by conference call.

These five government leaders, all boosters of renewable energy, expressed optimism that Congress will approve an extension of the production tax credit for wind energy during the lame duck session that began last week. "As governors, we want to add perspective on the importance of extending the production tax credit," Branstad said. "My state has already directly seen the negative impact related to the production tax credit not being extended earlier by Congress. For example, the Siemens Company recently laid off over 400 employees at its plant in Fort Madison, Iowa, and Clipper Wind Power laid off 100 workers at its plant in Cedar Rapids, Iowa."

Biodiesel industry was crippled when Congress let that tax credit lapse
Grassley said the uncertainty about the future of this tax incentive and others "hurts the economic good these policies do, and Washington should have learned the lesson given by biodiesel when its tax credit was allowed to lapse two years ago. In addition to jobs being lost, an important source of domestic, renewable energy was hurt. The wind-energy production tax credit is designed to level the playing field against coal-fired and nuclear electricity generation. This tax credit has been tremendously successful for renewable energy development and job creation."

Kitzhaber said, "We need to invest in domestic energy sources that not only meet our energy needs, but create healthier communities. We need to invest in energy resources that are clean and renewable, and affordable. Few policies offer a better return on investment for our country than the wind energy production tax credit. Nationally, the wind energy industry now drives $10 billion to $20 billion per year in private sector capital investment and employs 75,000 Americans. These are jobs created right here in our own backyards that cannot be outsourced.

Iowa's Grassley was an original author of the wind energy tax credit
Branstad is chairman and Kitzhaber is vice chairman of the Governors' Wind Energy Coalition. Brownback and Hickenlooper are members of the coalition.

Grassley first authored the production tax credit for wind energy in 1992. He has worked to extend it over the years and secured a one-year extension in legislation adopted in August by the Senate Finance Committee. Grassley said no single energy tax incentive should be singled out over others before a broad-based tax reform debate takes place.