Senator Chuck Grassley today joined Senator Mark Udall of Colorado , Rep. Steve King of Iowa, Rep. Jerry McNerney of California, and 40 veterans -- many of whom have found post-military careers in the wind-energy industry -- for a news conference to urge that an extension of the production tax credit for wind energy be included in year-end legislation to continue as many as 60 expiring tax provisions.
Shannon Lehmkuhl of Estherville and Troy Ellis of Newton were among the veterans at the event on Capitol Hill. They were participating in an Operation Free two-day fly-in to meet with members of Congress.
"The production tax credit for wind is working and should be part of the effort in Washington to help get more Americans -- and more veterans -- working," Grassley said. "Certainty about tax policy and affordable energy are factors for economic growth, and as much energy as possible -- both traditional and renewable -- should be produced at home to create jobs and strengthen economic and national security. There's no reason to exacerbate the unemployment problem by letting this successful incentive lapse."
In August, the Senate Finance Committee, with a bipartisan vote, passed an amendment authored by Grassley to extend the wind energy production tax credit. Legislation in the House of Representatives to extend the production tax credit for wind has 118 cosponsors, both Democrats and Republicans.
Grassley authored the production tax credit for wind when it was first passed in 1992. He has worked since then to extend the successful policy. Udall has been a vocal proponent for the wind production tax credit, speaking nearly every day the Senate has been in session to urge his colleagues to extend the production tax credit and secure made-in-America energy and the jobs it creates.
Grassley said the production tax credit for wind is available only when wind energy is produced. There's no benefit for simply placing the turbine in the ground. "It's tax relief that rewards results," Grassley said. "That's much different than failed taxpayer-funded grants and loans made since 2009." The senator said wind energy detractors have blurred the distinction in efforts to undercut wind as a source of clean electricity.
The wind energy production tax credit was created to try to level the playing field with coal-fired and nuclear electricity generation. If the wind incentive is allowed to lapse on December 31, wind energy would be the only form of energy generation without any federal incentive.
Nationwide, wind-energy production supports 75,000 jobs. In Iowa, the wind energy industry employs nearly 5,000 full-time workers, with a number of major wind manufacturing facilities. Iowa generates 20 percent of its electricity needs from wind, and wind energy powers the equivalent of a million homes. Almost 3,000 utility-scale turbines in Iowa generate lease payments to landowners worth $12.5 million every year.