116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
The good news is the U.S. House has delivered a reprieve to wind energy, voting this week to extend a tax credit that benefits wind energy projects through the end of this year.
The bad news is that a bigger, tougher fight remains ahead over the long-term future of the credit, which could make or break wind power's prospects.
We've long supported the credit as a vehicle to help the wind energy industry in Iowa and elsewhere develop and gain a solid foothold. It provides a credit of 2.3 cents per kilowatt-hour during a wind farm's first 10 years of operation.
We've never wanted the credit to be permanent, but terminating it now, and abruptly, would harm the industry just as it is becoming more competitive with traditional power sources.
How do we know it is becoming competitive? Look no further than the full-court campaign fossil fuel interests and allies have waged assailing the wind credit. Americans for Prosperity, a group that doesn't disclose its donors and is tied closely to the billionaire Koch brothers of Kansas, has targeted the credit with ads in several states. Also in the hunt is the American Energy Alliance, founded by Thomas Pyle, a former lobbyist for Koch Industries and the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association. Pyle's op-eds portraying the credit, first passed in 1992, as part of President Barack Obama's 'destructive climate agenda” have been published across the country.
Under the guise of fiscal frugality, these and other groups are seeking to snuff out wind power before renewable energy becomes a threat to the lucrative, but unsustainable, status quo. And they'll likely work even harder next year when a Republican Congress again considers wind's fate.
We agree with U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, who is willing to have a discussion over the future of the wind tax credit and its eventual phaseout. It should be a conversation based on what's best for the nation's energy future, not what's best for powerful interests protecting oil and coal turf.
And it also should include a debate over how long fossil fuel interests should continue raking in billions of dollars of federal subsidies. The notion that renewable energy is the only source of power in need of government help isn't based in reality. Too many opponents of wind power claiming they want a level playing field really want the federal thumb on their side of the scale.
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