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Energy: Senate moves on wind power tax credit

Romney favors coal and oil over renewable energy

Wind turbines in Montana. Photo courtesy NREL.

By Summit Voice

Wind power in the U.S. may yet get a leg up from Congress this year, as the Senate Finance Committee this week passed a bill including language that would renew the wind Production tax credit, due to expire at the end of this year.

While the tax credit faces additional hurdles, Colorado’s U.S. senator Mark Udall and Michael Bennet praised the committee after the vote.

“Passing the wind Production Tax Credit is one of the most important steps Congress can take this year to re-energize our economy, create jobs and pursue true energy security. I am glad to see the Senate Finance Committee agrees,” said Udall, who has been giving almost-daily floor speeches on wind power to draw attention to the issue.

“The American people expect us to act. The Senate Finance Committee took a step in that direction, but the full Senate needs to act … to prevent China and other countries from stepping into the breach caused by our failure to act swiftly on the PTC,” Udall said.

Earlier this week, Udall joined with Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) and Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) in sending a bipartisan letter asking the Senate Finance Committee to add the wind Production Tax Credit to the tax-extenders package.

Udall also recently joined with Bennet and Moran to reauthorize the wind Production Tax Credit as an amendment to the Small Business Jobs and Tax Relief Act.

The wind energy sector employs 75,000 Americans, including 6,000 jobs in Colorado.

“This is an important step towards extending the wind PTC before it expires at the end of the year,” Bennet said. “Bipartisan support from the Finance Committee is vital to passing an extension,” Bennet said.  “We’ll continue to push every way we know how until the tax credit is extended. It is an economic driver that’s critical to thousands of jobs in Colorado and tens of thousands of jobs across the country.  At the same time it is strengthening and diversifying our energy profile.”

Colorado is a wind energy leader, currently generating the third highest percentage of power from wind of any state in the nation. The state is home to several major wind energy developers and wind turbine manufacturing facilities, employing upwards of 6,000 workers statewide.

Nationally, expiration of the wind production tax credit could cost as many as 37,000 jobs, according to the American Wind Energy Association.

Meanwhile, on the campaign trail, Republican Mitt Romney is playing politics with energy, making his first visit to Colorado since coming out in favor of letting the Production Tax Credit (PTC) for wind energy expire.

Romney’s stance is at odds with Republicans, Democrats and local job creators in the wind energy sector, who all recognize the devastating impact Romney’s plan would have on job growth and our economy.

“Mitt Romney claims he’s creating a level playing field by eliminating the crucial wind energy tax credit, but he’s putting his thumb on the scale in favor of Big Oil,” said Pete Maysmith, Colorado Conservation Voters Executive Director.

“Failure to extend the PTC this year could result in over 1,500 jobs lost in Colorado alone,” said Sarah Propst, Executive Director of the Interwest Energy Alliance. “It’s hard to explain the opposition, because the PTC enjoys extensive bipartisan support, creates jobs, and promotes domestic energy production.”

While Romney’s energy agenda would devastate the renewable energy sector, it would be a boon to the oil industry. As the Center for American Progress Action Fund recently documented, under Romney’s tax plan, “The world’s five biggest public oil companies … would keep special tax breaks worth $2.4 billion each year. And by cutting corporate tax rates, the Romney plan could lower the companies’ annual tax bill by another $2.3 billion.”

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