Extend the wind energy tax credit
The Kansas City Star
Suddenly, much of the wind has gone out of the sails of a once-growing industry in Kansas — and in this country.
Wind energy companies are laying off a lot of employees, cutting production and making dire predictions about their future. The biggest concern: Congress has not extended a crucial tax credit that makes it financially feasible for the industry to compete with other subsidized energy sources.
Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, along with U.S. Sens. Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran, are battling to keep the credit. Good for these three Republicans. Even though the situation looks bleak now — a large number of GOP House members have vowed to stop any extension — it still could be approved after the Nov. 6 election.
That would be a good move for the nation, which needs to increase its sources of clean and renewable energy.
Critics will continue to complain that wind-produced electricity is more expensive than coal-generated power. However, as we have noted often, the true costs of fossil fuels must include the expenses of dealing with the very real environmental damages they cause.
Opposing lawmakers also claim they don’t want to pick “winners and losers” by backing the tax credit extension. The U.S. tax code does that every day, with some of its rules slanted in favor of Big Oil and other energy industries.
As it is now, Kansas stands to lose hundreds of wind-related jobs in the next year, undermining progress on wind energy construction projects in the state.
The failure to extend the tax credit also could hurt efforts by utilities to bolster the diversity of their power sources, a troubling move backward. Brownback and others have pointed out that, even with the inclusion of wind-generated power, electricity rates in Kansas continue to be below those in many other parts of the country.
The wind energy industry, through more research and engineering, does need to improve the efficiency of its turbines to bring down its costs to consumers.
But the likelihood of technological changes being made in the long-term will grow dimmer unless Congress extends the tax credit by late 2012.