Obama, Romney Battle on Wind Energy Tax Credits
The countdown to Election Day is coming to a head and wind energy could either overcome its hardships or falter to its demise. The 2.2- cent tax credit currently given to wind energy suppliers for every kilowatt/hour of energy they produce is set to expire December 31, 2012. The decision on whether or not to renew the tax credit or cut the cord has put political parties at odds with each other. If elected, Governor Mitt Romney states that he will allow the tax credit to expire and focus on a more free market approach by creating a level playing field for all sources of energy while President Obama is promising to renew the credit and continue the growth of clean “homegrown” alternative energy.
“[Romney] you can’t drive a car with a windmill on it,” was the infamous line that underscored his stance on the clean generating technology. The U.S. Senate has already renewed the $12 billion production tax credit for new wind generation in 2013 and the extension for incentive tax credit for offshore and community level development but it has yet to pass the House of Representatives. After federally backed alternative energy projects like Solyndra took a nosedive, the fiscally conservative republican-led House will likely be hesitant to give the green light to any future clean energy projects including wind energy incentives.Leading turbine suppliers like Vestas have already shown their lack of confidence in the House of Representatives as they have already layed off nearly 90 workers in their Colorado facilities. The White House predicts that if the credit is not renewed that as many as 37,000 U.S. jobs could be lost. It’s also safe to say that fewer turbines will be produced and installed if the subsidies are dropped putting a hindrance on the once promising technology. If we look back at the last time production tax credits were allowed to expire in 2004, installations around the country lowered by 93% according to the American Wind and Energy Association. This single handedly stunted the wind energy progression and put the industry in a bind.
Governor Mitt Romney toured a coal plant in Ohio recently slandering Obama’s environmental policies that prioritize renewable energy over fossil fuels. At a wind farm in Iowa, where turbines are just as commonplace as cows, Obama fired back at the GOP backing the tax credits that the state currently relies on for more than 7,000 jobs.
Obama was quoted,
“…my attitude is let’s stop giving taxpayer subsidies to oil companies that don’t need them, and let’s invest in clean energy that will put people back to work right here in Iowa,” also adding “That’s a choice in this election.”
Opponents to the tax credit agree that government subsidies given to clean energy technologies like wind and solar need to be cut off saying that it’s time companies start relying on themselves to bolster business.
Wind energy has grown exponentially in the last seven years. Annual installations in the U.S. rose 31% with 6,800 megawatts of power added to the energy grid in 2011 – which is equivalent to the amount of power generated by five large coal plants. Wind energy now has 50,000 megawatts of energy capacity, which is twice as much than in 2008. The costs of wind power are down and the technology has made some great strides towards contributing to a cleaner brighter future. Without the production tax credit renewal it could put a cap on the industry altogether and allow the fossil fuel giants to continue to dominate the country’s power grid.
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