The tax credit works by giving wind farm owners 2.2 cents for every kilowatt-hour of power they produce. It is expected to cost the federal government about $1.3 billion this fiscal year, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, a fraction of the credits that will be taken advantage of by the oil industry this year.The cost of these incentives is a drop in the bucket compared to the public health benefits, increased energy security, and cuts in carbon pollution. Massachusetts' SouthCoast region gets - in the last three months alone (a slow time for wind energy) Fairhaven banked $45,000 from its two wind turbines and is now moving forward on solar power.
President Barack Obama wants the tax credit extended; GOP nominee Mitt Romney wants it to expire. Romney argues the tax credit for wind gives an unfair advantage, and that the industry should have to compete on a "level playing field" with other energy industries. This, of course, is nonsense.
Even the two Bush presidents, with their longstanding support of oil industries, were solidly behind promotion of credits for emerging energy technologies. The playing field has belonged to the industries that trade in carbon-based energy for so long that the impact of infrastructure on production costs and bottom lines is of a vastly different order than that for emerging technologies. Maybe when the lobbyists for the renewable sources have the access to legislators and influence currently enjoyed by the carbon-focused industries it will be an indication that the playing field is starting to level out.
From Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley to Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown, many Republican members of Congress representing states with booming clean energy sectors want wind incentives extended. The Senate Finance Committee passed an extension of the credit on a bipartisan vote, but Senate Republican leadership is likely to mount a filibuster and House Republican leadership may not allow a vote at all.
Will bipartisan support for clean energy be able to overcome Congressional Republican leadership's opposition to giving President Obama victories on any of his priorities? Tell your members of Congress that we can't let petty politics kill American clean energy jobs.