Statesman Journal: Wind energy has small slice of energy pie but big lobbying push for tax credit
Raju Chebium with the Gannett Washington Bureau writes on lobbyists’ actions on pressing Congress to extend the wind PTC.
WASHINGTON — Wind power makes up a small slice of the nation’s energy pie, but its advocates have mounted a big lobbying campaign to persuade Congress to renew an expiring tax credit viewed as crucial for the industry’s survival.
Advocates want Congress to extend the wind-energy production tax credit beyond its Dec. 31 expiration date. The wind tax credit has been in effect on and off since 1992. The current credit — 2.2 cents for every 1,000 watts of wind energy produced — has been in effect continually since 2005.
Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., and Sen. Charles Grassley, the Iowa Republican who authored the first wind tax credit 20 years ago, have joined advocates in urging Congress to include it in a broader legislative package aimed at blocking sharp tax increases and automatic spending cuts set to take effect next year.
Lobbyists for virtually every industry that receives tax benefits are quietly pressing lawmakers to protect, preserve, extend or expand those benefits. Advocates of wind power, a renewable energy source, have been more vocal than most others.
The wind-power industry generated 3 percent of the nation’s electricity needs in 2011, according to the Energy Information Administration, which added that wind power has grown rapidly since 1970. Advocates say it is the fastest-growing energy source and among the cleanest.