The future of wind tax credits is still tied up in Congress as the clock runs down to extend the production tax credit for wind (PTC) expiring at the end of the year. This week, 47 House Republicans urged House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) to let them expire.
Although GOP districts hold 81 percent of the nation’s wind power capacity, Republicans are deeply split on investing in wind (Mitt Romney, for example, drew criticism from fellow Republicans for opposing the PTC). Boehner’s home state supports up to 6,000 wind jobs.
The GOP remains less divided on issues favoring Big Oil.
Of the 47 Republicans asking Boehner to end the wind investments, 46 voted in March 2011 against closing tax loopholes that let Big Oil collect $4 billion in annual subsidies. The one outlier, GOP Rep. Richard Hanna, was a no-vote that day. According to OpenSecrets, these representatives have received a total $2.2 million from the oil and gas industry, in an election cycle where Republicans have collected 89 percent of the oil industry’s contributions. Republicans have maintained these tax breaks are “essential” to an industry posting record-breaking profits.
Yet their letter claims wind is too expensive for investment. An excerpt reads:
Today, when the U.S. is more than $15 trillion in debt and borrowing $0.40 of every dollar it spends, we cannot afford to borrow money to subsidize the operations of a politically preferred technology. In the case of wind, doing so would not only be costly to taxpayers but ultimately would hurt consumers by distorting energy markets.”
The letter’s arguments echoes Americans for Prosperity’s campaign to end PTC. The Koch-funded organization called wind tax credits “deplorable.”
The PTC allots wind farms to draw on the 2.2 cents per kilowatt hour of electricity they produce in the first decade of operation. The Associated Press recently compared wind investments to government support of shale gas, which existed for decades before today’s natural gas boom. The oil and gas industry has long taken advantage of these and other tax breaks — fought for and maintained by Republican allies — that outnumbered federal support for renewables in the first 15 years of available subsidies.