Presidential candidates battle over wind power tax credits
By Forrest Saunders, Multimedia Journalist - email
Wind turbine spins near Alta, IA.
SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KTIV) -
Iowa is the nation's number two producer of wind energy. In fact, 7,000 state jobs depend on it. But, the industry depends on a big tax break. And your vote this November could bring winds of change to wind energy.
The White House says the wind boom is in jeopardy of being blown apart. That's if a wind energy tax credit is allowed to expire this year.
Without federal funding, wind power on average is twice as expensive as natural gas. To cut costs, the government provides a 30% tax break.
President Barack Obama has turned the issue into a political tempest. He says he wants to keep the credit going, all the while, attacking GOP Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney, who's against it.
"In a moment when home grown energy, renewable energy is creating jobs in states like Colorado and Iowa, my opponent wants to end tax credits for wind energy producers," said Obama, speaking in Colorado, August 9th.
The Romney Campaign has shot back at critics saying the wind industry will benefit from less government support.
A spokeswoman told the L.A. Times Romney wants to "set the industry on a course for success and growth by promoting policies that remove regulatory barriers, support free enterprise and market-based competition..."
Locally, the expiration could affect the success of a $1.8 billion dollar transmission line. That line would send wind energy, captured in Siouxland states, to the Chicago area, and beyond.
Houston based, Clean Line Energy Partners is behind the project. They admit the loss of tax credits could mean less use of their line.
"I think that some wind farms would probably be less likely to get built. Yeah, I think that's a reasonable guess," said Hans Detweiler, Director of Development for the company.
The line is expected to start serving in 2017. If credits expire, company officials are hopeful something else will come along.
"Congress has always found a way to be supportive of renewable energy. We, frankly, don't know what that is going to look like in 2017, but we expect that Congress will find a way to be supportive," said Detweiler.
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