Wind industry seeking extension of tax credit

Wind advocates are rallying for the extension of a key tax credit to bolster wind development.
BY JAY F. MARKS jmarks@opubco.com Published: December 2, 2011
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The wind industry is trying to get a jump on the potential expiration of key federal tax incentive.

Industry officials and supporters are pushing for a four-year extension of the wind production tax credit, which encourages development of proven renewable energy projects.

The current tax credit is set to expire at the end of 2012.

“The extension of the federal production tax credit for wind energy production is needed to maintain the momentum of a diversified energy plan for our national security, a cleaner environment for our children, and much needed high-paying U.S. manufacturing jobs,” said Jaime McAlpine, president of Edmond-based Chermac Energy Corp., which is involved in oil and natural gas exploration and wind development.

McAlpine said losing the tax credit could be a double hit for Oklahoma since the state only has voluntary renewable energy goals, unlike neighboring states.

“The combination of no federal PTC and voluntary goals will stop the growth of potential revenue for public schools, county government and landowners in our state because we can't compete with our neighbors in the renewable energy boom,” he said.

Key tool for development

The tax credit is the industry's primary tool to promote U.S. wind development, according to the American Wind Energy Association, which launched a new website Thursday to educate people on the importance of the incentive.

The site, SaveUSAWindJobs.com, offers information about how the tax credit bolsters wind development and U.S. job growth.

It contends wind power is creating one of the nation's fastest growing manufacturing sectors, with the potential to create 500,000 jobs in less than two decades.

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Coburn opposes tax credit

A four-year extension of the production tax credit for renewable energy projects has been proposed by U.S. Reps. Dave Reichert, a Republican from Washington, and Earl Blumenauer, a Democrat from Oregon.

At least one member of Oklahoma's congressional delegation, Sen. Tom Coburn, opposes the American Renewable Energy Production Tax Credit Extension Act. Sen. Jim Inhofe and Rep. John Sullivan have not reached a decision on the extension proposal.

“Rep. Sullivan feels that all tax credits — including the production tax credit — deserve a rigorous analysis to determine whether they are a good bet for taxpayers and whether the market needs them,” spokesman Vaughn Jennings said. “With the PTC not set to expire until the end of 2012, he looks forward to analyzing the effectiveness of the credit in meeting its goal of wind generation prior to consideration of any tax extender legislation.”

Inhofe spokesman Matt Dempsey said any extension likely will be part of a package with multiple tax provisions.

“Sen. Inhofe would want to consider the bill in its entirety,” he said.

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