Three lawmakers want renewable credits extended through 2016

Three lawmakers have introduced a bill to extend a set of tax credits for renewable energy production through 2016, amid the looming December 2012 expiration of the credit for wind power.

The bill would extend the renewable-energy production tax credit for wind power by four years until the end of 2016. It also extends the rest of the renewable production tax credits, which expire at the end of 2013, by three years to the end of 2016. The measure is sponsored by Reps. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., and Dave Reichert, R-Wash.

Braley pointed to wind’s role in his home state of Iowa, which ranks second in total wind generating capacity, according to the American Wind Energy Association, an industry trade group.

“Wind energy is good for the economy, good for the environment and good for farmers,” Braley said in a statement. “Our bipartisan bill will promote job-creating wind-energy projects and provide incentives to expand wind-energy production.”

The renewable-energy production tax credit rewards companies for each kilowatt-hour of new renewable capacity for the first 10 years it’s online. The wind industry has pushed for an extension of its credit, since it expires a year before the others do.

But Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., is fronting a bill to eliminate all energy tax credits, for both conventional and alternative sources. He said his bill would save $90 billion over 10 years while reducing the corporate tax rate by a corresponding amount.

In a letter to colleagues last week, Pompeo said his bill would be “a reasonable approach to ending the decades-long practice of trying to pick winners and losers.”

He added his bill would preserve tax deductions that apply across multiple industries.

Denise Bode, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association, has blasted Pompeo’s bill, saying he “seems to misunderstand how a key federal tax incentive has built a thriving American wind manufacturing sector and tens of thousands of American jobs.”

Bode has praised the bill that extends the wind tax credit.

“This bipartisan support shows that American wind energy jobs are something that we can all agree are vital for our economic well being and energy security,” Bode said.

GOP presidential candidates have offered differing answers on whether to extend the credits.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry, whose state leads the nation in total wind generating capacity, has repeatedly called for ending all energy tax subsidies.

Earlier this week in Iowa, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann said she would “like to pull them back and let these industries be able to be more self-supporting and stand on their own.”

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., indicated he’d support an extension of renewable tax credits. In Iowa, he said it “ought to be for at least 10 years because you want a long enough time horizon that people make capital investments.”