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Romney Camp Supports Ending Wind Tax Credit, Would Create 37,000 Layoffs

GOP Presidential candidate-to-be, Mitt Romney, supports an end to the wind tax credit that provides wind developers with 2.2 cents for every kilowatt-hour of wind electricity they produce. The tax credit is essential for the wind energy industry to compete with the heavily-subsidized fossil fuel energy.

But demonizing the wind tax credit has been a major goal of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which we reported in May is prepping a PR campaign aimed at “causing subversion in message of industry so that it effectively becomes so bad that no one wants to admit in public they are for it…”

According to Think Progress, ending the wind tax credit could mean a loss of jobs for several thousand workers in the clean energy sector.

The Des Moines Register recently reported that the Romney campaign has made it clear where the candidate stands on this issue:

Mitt Romney’s opposition to wind power could put a damper on Iowa’s wind industry and its thousands of jobs, advocates say.

The federal wind energy production tax credit is set to expire at the end of the year. Staffers for Romney, the likely Republican presidential candidate, said he wants to end the credit, but didn’t specify whether it should be allowed to expire this year or phased out shortly after. President Barack Obama wants an indefinite extension of the tax credit.

Industry insiders and policymakers in Iowa, Republicans and Democrats alike, say ending the credit would hurt Iowa’s blossoming industry.

“It’s really going to slow down the expansion of wind energy,” said Harold Prior, executive director of the Iowa Wind Energy Association. “This could mean the loss of several thousand jobs in the industry.”

The tax credit is so important to the industry that the mere threat of it not being renewed has already had an impact. From the Think Progress post:

The looming threat of an expiration is making it difficult for developers to plan beyond 2012. As a result, wind companies are delaying projects and laying workers off. In Pennsylvania, a turbine manufacturer furloughed 165 workers; in April, an Ohio wind developer scrapped plans for a $20 million project; in Arkansas, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries halted plans for a $100 million production facility; and Vestas, the world’s largest wind manufacturer, may lay off 1,600 workers if the credit expires.

Republicans in affected states support extension of the tax credit despite the opposition of the fundraising arm of the party. In Kansas, where Republican Senator Jerry Moran has been working hard to extend the credit, the state’s flourishing wind power industry is effectively being held hostage by Congressional uncertainty.

Supporters, meanwhile, highlight the excellent rate of return on these credits:

John Graham, CEO of BP Wind Energy, the company which runs Kansas’ Flat Ridge Phase I and II wind farms, says the tax credit is an excellent stimulant to the industry at a minimal cost to the government.

The tax credit, Graham said, costs the government $3.5 billion a year and attracts $15 billion to $20 billion in investment. Sixty percent of wind energy components are now made in the U.S. “We think it’s a very good return,” he said.

An opinion piece in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel echoes this sentiment noting the importance of seizing this bipartisan moment:

Today, few policies garner the kind of bipartisan support the Production Tax Credit has attained. That’s because, plain and simple, it’s an effective piece of legislation that works. It works for Wisconsin, and it works for America. Now it’s up to Congress to take action. We urge all residents of Wisconsin to share their support for the tax credit with their representatives in Washington.

In the past five years, wind energy has brought $20 billion in annual private investment to the United States and has helped support 75,000 jobs. The expiration of the credit could cause an estimated 37,000 layoffs.


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