THE president's campaign staffers aren't the only team advocating for another term. They're joined by a bipartisan, ideologically diverse group pushing for renewal of the federal production tax credit (PTC) for wind power.
Energy-related tax incentives are about as old as the use of electricity to light homes. Decades-old credits for fossil fuels were joined in 1992 by the PTC, which has stimulated investment in wind power — from the manufacturing of equipment to the construction and maintenance of the turbines that are now a common sight in western Oklahoma.
The latest PTC will expire at the end of the year unless Congress and President Obama act to extend it. This needs to happen.
Unfortunately, Obama is pursuing a divisive strategy in urging support for renewable energy credits while pushing punitive policies for the oil and gas industry. This comes at a time when Obama's second-term chances are somewhat reduced due to rapidly rising gasoline prices.
Obama's “all of the above” strategy for energy development is hollow when he seeks to extend his standard class warfare arguments to energy. Americans are embracing renewable energy, but they also want a stable, affordable, domestic supply of oil.
Wind is huge in Oklahoma. Twelve counties in the western half of the state have turbines. Manufacturing facilities for wind power equipment can be found in three counties.
Denise Bode, a former Oklahoma Corporation Commission member and now head of the American Wind Energy Association, says the state's potential to produce power from wind is ranked ninth in the United States. In terms of how much capacity it added last year alone, Oklahoma ranked fifth. The state is now eighth in total installed wind capacity.
How much of this growth would have occurred without the tax credit is impossible to say. For sure, the lack of a tax credit would have affected other states as well, but most of those states have renewable energy mandates (Oklahoma does not), which tend to boost wind power development, Bode told The Oklahoman's editorial board last week.
Oklahoma is blessed with an abundance of natural resources that can be used to run vehicles, heat homes and make electricity. For most of the years since statehood, wind power was confined to the devices on farms that pulled up water for stock tanks.
Not anymore. The share of power made from wind in Oklahoma was 5.1 percent in 2010. That figure has been growing by the year as new turbines are added and transmission facilities are improved.
Official state policy is to encourage wind power development rather than mandate it. We think that's best, but we also think the production tax credit deserves another term. At some point, the industry will need to stand on its own. As an emerging and vital industry, however, wind power needs the investment boost that would result from extending the tax credit.