Western Governors Urge Wind Energy Tax Credit Extension

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The Western Governors' Association sent a letter to Congress this week asking for an extension of the Production Tax Credit for wind energy. The tax credit is set to expire at year's end if Congress does not vote to extend it.

* The letter, signed by association chair Utah Gov. Gary R. Herbert and vice-chair Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, cited high-paying manufacturing, construction and other jobs provided by the industry. In 2011, the wind industry provided over 30,000 jobs.

* While the governors urged a short-term continuance of the production tax credit, they acknowledged that the credit should not exist in prepetuity. "In the long run," the governors stated, "we believe repealing all federal energy subsidies (tax or otherwise) is the preferred approach. No one energy company, or energy source, should receive preferential treatment from the government."

* The Western Governors' Association is an independent, nonprofit organization representing 19 states and three US-Flag Pacific Islands. The association's current membership is comprised of 13 Republican and six Democratic governors.

* The Western Governors' Association's letter follows a similar letter sent in November from the Governors' Wind Energy Coalition. That letter was signed by coalition chair Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee and vice chair Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad.

* The coalition's letter encouraged a multi-year extension of the tax credit in order to "encourage investment of new capital, help catalyze the export of wind energy technologies and related products, and support the goal of increasing domestic energy production."

* According to the coalition, wind-related manufacturing is beginning to slow due to the delay in extending the credit, and a last-minute approach to the extension would result in "a significant loss of high-paying jobs in a growing sector of the economy."

* The coalition stated that previous expirations of the tax credit in 1999, 2001 and 2003 resulted in a significant drop in new wind installations, between 73 percent and 93 percent.

* Both letters from the governors' groups stated that continued policy uncertainty regarding the Production Tax Credit for wind energy will result in the loss of jobs.

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