Candidates split over extending tax credit for wind energy producers

August 12, 2012

President Obama and presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney clashed last week over a federal tax credit for businesses that produce wind and other alternative energy.

In campaign events in Colorado, Obama emphasized his support for extending the tax credit and attacked Romney for opposing the extension, framing his opponent’s stance as a threat to job creation.

“At a moment when home-grown energy, renewable energy, is creating new jobs in Colorado and Iowa, my opponent wants to end tax credits for wind energy producers,” Obama told supporters in Pueblo, Colo.

The tax incentive refers to the Production Tax Credit, which was created during the George H.W. Bush administration and has been extended by each president since. When Obama signed the Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, he extended the wind credit through 2012 to allow wind energy producers to collect 10 years’ worth of credits up front as a form of stimulus.

Romney’s campaign has said it would allow the credit to end in order to “create a level playing field on which all sources of energy can compete on their merits,” the Des Moines Register reported.

Romney avoided addressing the tax credit while campaigning in Iowa — where wind energy jobs have spurred the local economy in recent years — instead speaking generally about the importance of relying on diverse energy resources, The Hill reported.

The tax credit is an especially pressing issue in Colorado and Iowa, both swing states where energy manufacturers are large employers. Wind turbine manufacturer Vestas employs nearly 2,000 people in Colorado, and has said it could lay off as many as 1,600 people if the tax credit is not extended, according to Politico. In Iowa, wind manufacturers Acciona and Siemans have created almost 1,000 jobs, Obama’s Iowa campaign spokeswoman told the Register.

About 75,000 U.S. workers are employed by the wind industry, according to the American Wind Energy Association. Allowing the tax credit to expire will lead to the loss of 10,000 wind industry jobs in 2012 and another 27,000 jobs in 2013, the trade group estimates.

Catherine Ho covers law and lobbying for Capital Business, which she joined in 2011. She was previously a reporter at the Daily Journal in Los Angeles, covering LA civil courts and labor and employment law.
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