Wind critics fire salvo in war of words over PTC extension
Washington (Platts)--14Nov2012/115 pm EST/1815 GMT
With congressional leaders and President Obama venturing into likely
contentious negotiations aimed at reducing the federal deficit, Senator Lamar
Alexander, a Tennessee Republican, said Wednesday that a "good start" would
be to let the production tax credit for wind energy expire at year's end.
"We're broke... we can't afford it," Alexander said at a policy briefing
organized by The Hill newspaper as the war of words over the potential
extension of the PTC for wind ramped up amid Congress' lame duck session.
During the briefing, Alexander, Representative Mike Pompeo, a Kansas
Republican and member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and former
senator Phil Gramm, a Texas Republican and current vice chairman with UBS
Investment Bank, painted the PTC for wind as a tax loophole for a costly and
inefficient energy source.
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"This is a bad policy," said Gramm, who called the PTC for wind a market
"distortion" that was forcing taxpayers to fund an energy source that was far
more expensive and less efficient than natural gas. "We need to get all of
these distortions out of the way and let the market work," he said.
Alexander, who said he also supported eliminating tax breaks for oil and
gas companies as well as wind firms, called wind "notoriously unreliable" and
compared incentivizing wind energy to "going to war in sailboats when nuclear
submarines are available."
The PTC, a 2.2 cents/kWh credit, will expire at midnight on December 31
unless lawmakers vote to extend it. Senator Chuck Grassley, an Iowa
Republican who included a one-year extension of the PTC for wind in a broader
tax-extenders bill that the Senate Finance Committee approved in August, on
Tuesday held a conference call with governors of Iowa, Colorado, Oregon and
Kansas advocating for an extension of the wind PTC.
Grassley said about 23,000 jobs are on hold with the PTC extension in
flux, a point Richard Caperton, director of Clean Energy Investment at the
Center for American Progress, reiterated during Wednesday's briefing.
"If we get rid of the PTC, that's going to put a lot of jobs at risk,"
Grassley said that congressional leaders have yet to give any indication
on how or when the potential PTC extension will be considered during the
lame-duck congressional session.
At the briefing Wednesday, Pompeo dodged a question over whether
Republican leaders -- including House Speaker John Boehner, an Ohio
Republican, and Majority Leader Eric Cantor, a Virginia Republican -- have
indicated they would support letting the wind PTC expire at the end of the
year. "There's still a lot of work to do," Pompeo said.
--Brian Scheid, email@example.com
--Edited by Valarie Jackson, firstname.lastname@example.org