How important is the wind industry to the U.S. economy? Since 2009, the wind industry has doubled its capacity, installing enough projects nationwide to power 12 million homes and supporting 75,000 jobs. Each year, the industry attracts $20 billion in private capital to the U.S. And most importantly, nearly 70 percent of all equipment used for wind farms comes from domestic manufacturers, according to the Department of Energy.
Mitt Romney has made his position clear on the campaign trail: He wants to increase taxes on the wind industry by eliminating a key federal credit — potentially threatening 37,000 jobs — and maintain nearly $40 billion dollars in tax credits for the mature oil and gas industry. Romney’s campaign admits this. And this stance has made a lot of Midwestern Republicans upset.
“The whole issue here is about fairness and equity. The older, carbon-based forms of generation have enjoyed benefits and tax subsidies within the tax code for 90 years,” says Harold Prior, Director of the Iowa Wind Energy Association. “While wind and solar and a lot of other renewables depend on highly visible, short-term tax subsidies that face expiration…and it really does not create a very predictable situation for the industry’s growth.”
So what’s at stake in the Midwest? Business leaders in Iowa — a swing state that gets 20 percent of its electricity from wind — explain why the tax credit is so important to local economies there: