Energy: Udall battling for wind power tax credit renewal

Expiration of a tax credit for wind power could cost thousands of jobs.

Ideology a stumbling block as Congress grapples with renewable energy issues

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — America’s surge toward renewable energy could hit a stumbling block with the expiration of the production tax credit at the end of this year, but Colorado Sen. Mark Udall is going to do his best to not let that happen.

Udall announced today that he’ll start each Senate session with a floor speech  urging his colleagues to review and renew the tax credit, which has brought thousands of jobs to Colorado and the country and helped grow the nation’s clean energy industry.

“It is one thing for Congress to take the time to consider a new proposal and have an open, honest debate, but the production tax credit is widely supported, will create jobs and has already helped our economy grow,” Udall said. 

“Until Congress acts, businesses here and across the country will shed jobs and take our economy backward.  Americans have had it with dysfunction and inaction on Capitol Hill.  It is unacceptable for Congress not to pass this common-sense and badly needed piece of legislation.  I plan to remind my colleagues of that every morning until the … tax credit passes.”

According to the American Wind Energy Association, there is broad bipartisan support for the tax credit. During a wind power conference in early June, both Karl Rove, former senior adviser to President George W. Bush, and Robert Gibbs, former Press Secretary and adviser to President Obama said that extending the tax credit makes sense.

“My hope is that after the election people say, look, let’s start making some priorities and find some things that we can agree on, and maybe one of them is the production tax credit,” said Rove. “It is a market mechanism, you don’t get paid unless you produce the power, and we’re not picking winners and losers, we’re simply saying for some period of time we will provide this incentive.”

“The policy is airtight,” said Gibbs. “We understand the jobs it produces, we understand the impact it has on our energy portfolio, and quite frankly there’s no reason we shouldn’t do it.”

Wind power companies need some certainty to continue investing in production, and a recent study found that extending the credit will help the industry grow to 100,000 jobs in just four years, while an expiration will cause the loss of 37,000 jobs.

The credit has helped attract clean energy businesses to invest in the United States, including Vestas, which created almost 2,000 jobs in Colorado with its manufacturing facilities in Pueblo, Windsor and Brighton.

With Congress failing to act on the tax credit, investors have held back millions of dollars in capital and declined to make any new commitments.

Other innovative, renewable energy industries, including biofuels and geothermal, also are facing threats because of Congress’ failure to pass critical renewable energy tax credits.

“While Congress refuses to act, China and other countries are stepping into the breach.  Failing to pass the tax credit effectively exports jobs, investment and business opportunities overseas,” Udall said.

“Congress needs to act to keep the United States an open marketplace for these innovative energy industries.  The United States belongs on the cutting edge of renewable energy technology and on a path to secure our energy independence.”



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