Battle on wind energy tax credits coming - Business, Government Legal News from throughout WV

Battle on wind energy tax credits coming

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Wind energy advocates are calling for renewal of a two-decade-old tax break given to the wind industry, but opposition is also lining up.

The Sierra Club recently put up "wall-to-wall posters and banners" in the subway station near the U.S. Capitol calling for renewal of the credits. The group said the wind energy Production Tax Credit is bringing mass layoffs and halting development in the industry.

"The wind energy Production Tax Credit (PTC) helps level the playing field between the growing wind industry and the gargantuan coal industry that already gets billions in tax breaks," the Sierra Club states in an e-mail. "And beyond bringing some competition to the energy market, the PTC will preserve tens of thousands of American jobs."

Currently, the federal government provides a tax credit of 2.2 cents for every 1,000 watts of wind energy produced.

Thursday, however, Americans for Prosperity, a conservative political advocacy group, released a letter calling for the end of the tax credit. According to the AFP, the credit distorts the energy market and increases energy prices.

The open letter has the backing of 88 different organizations calling for the end of the credit.

"It's long past time to let the wind production tax credit expire.  It's been in place for twenty years and the sector is still entirely dependent on the credit and renewable electricity mandates to exist," said AFP Director of Policy James Valvo.  "The 88 organizations differ in size and scope, but they all have one thing in common: They agree that it's time to end special tax treatment for wind-energy production."

The Senate finance committee has already passed a measure that would renew and expand the tax credit in August. The one-year extension would provide a $12.1 billion subsidy.

"Americans deserve an energy policy that is economically viable and an industry that is strong and independent, not one that limps along and relies on the tax code and purchase mandates to stay afloat," continued Valvo.  "Congress would be wise to finally allow the wind production tax credit to expire. Millions of citizens and dozens of organizations across the country are calling on them to do so."

The federal tax credit has been promoted mostly by Democrats, but many Republicans with wind energy presence in their states have also shown support for the credit.

In West Virginia, leaders have not been vocal about the federal tax credit. The state has seven wind farm projects operating or permitted. In West Virginia, companies receive a tax credit on state taxes.

A March 2007 bill provides allows wind companies to reduce business and occupation taxes from 40 percent to 12 percent of generating capacity. 

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