From Beer Brewers to Veterans, Groups Urge Renewal of Wind Tax Credit
As Congress debates how to solve the looming fiscal cliff, time is also running out for renewal of a tax credit promoting wind energy production.
Its end-of-year expiration date is creating a sense of urgency for Colorado lawmakers, and it’s bringing together some unexpected groups to back the cause.
One of the credit’s most tireless promoters is Senator Mark Udall. The Democratic lawmaker has made 22 floor speeches stressing the importance of extending federal incentives for wind power companies. On Wednesday, he joined both Republican and Democratic lawmakers to make yet another pitch.
“Already over the past several months we’ve seen the real life effects of Congress’s failure to quickly extend what is a common sense tax credit,” he said.
Colorado-based Vestas Wind Systems has already initiated job cuts due to the uncertainty.
There are opponents of the idea like South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint who earlier this year unsuccessfully advocated to end all energy subsidies. But Udall says the layoffs alone should be a wake-up call.
To further his point Wednesday, Udall brought veterans now working in the wind energy industry into the discussion.
“We’re all here because we recognize that energy security is national security. We can’t project strength aboard if we’re weak economically here at home,” he said.
Across the country in Colorado other backers promoted the same concept from a different perspective Wednesday.
At Odell Brewery in Fort Collins, Owner Doug Odell says the idea is important for him because more wind power means more water.
“If this company doesn’t have water, we’re out of business. Water is 90-95 percent of what is in every one of our products,” he says.
Speaking at an event organized by Environment Colorado, Odell estimates he used 8 million gallons of water this year in the brewing process. He said he started participating in the green energy surcharge in 1997 which promotes wind and other forms of alternative energy. He also built solar panels on a new addition to his factory in North Fort Collins.
Environment Colorado released a report Wednesday on how wind power frees up more water available for use. Unlike coal and gas fired plants that require a lot of the resource, wind power doesn’t any of it. And that’s especially important as the drought continues to worsen according to the group’s Margaret McCall.
“Our message to Congress is clear: don’t throw wind power off the fiscal cliff,” she said. “Water starved Coloradans simply can’t afford it.”
Congress is expected to weigh in on the topic. The tax credit is currently attached to the so-called Tax Extenders Bill, which will be up for debate before the end of the year.
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