WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. John Boozman and Mark Pryor are seeking an extension of production and investment tax credits for wind energy.
The two lawmakers joined 24 colleagues who signed onto a letter Friday urging the Senate Finance Committee to include the tax breaks for the wind industry when they consider a so-called tax-extenders package this year.
The production tax credit and investment tax credit, which support wind-energy developments, expired at the end of 2013. Boozman and Pryor cited LM Windpower in Little Rock, as an example of an Arkansas manufacturer that has benefited from the credits.
"Wind power supports Arkansas jobs, and our state is well-positioned to take the lead in this growing industry," said Pryor, a Democrat. "That’s why I have supported the wind production tax credit in the past, and why I’ve continued to advocate for its extension now."
Sara Lasure, a spokeswoman for Boozman, said the Republican senator sees the tax credits as part of his "all-of-the-above" energy policy.
The tax credits are crucial in building the wind energy industry in Arkansas. Last year, Nordex USA ended wind turbine production at a northeast Arkansas factory because of weak orders and concerns over the stability of the federal tax production credit. And, LM Windpower had layoffs last year due to the short-term expiration of the tax credit.
In the letter, the senators pointed to the need for stability in federal tax policy to allow businesses to invest with confidence in new ideas.
"Like all businesses, the wind industry seeks certainty and predictability so that long-term project decisions and investments can be made. Without that stability, we once again risk losing many of the jobs, infrastructure and investment that the wind industry has created," they wrote.
Sens. Mark Udall, D-Colo., and Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, spearheaded the letter in the Senate. In the House, Reps. Steve King, R-Iowa, and Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa, sent a similar letter to House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. The letter was signed by 118 members of the House, but none from Arkansas.
Iowa is the national leader in wind generation – accounting for 6,000 jobs – and providing over 27 percent of the state’s electricity. Colorado is home to Xcel - the nation’s largest wind power provider – and has seen over $4 billion in private investment in wind energy, according to the American Wind Energy Association.
The Association said that uncertainty over the future of the production tax credit at the end of 2012 caused private investment in wind energy to fall from $25 billion in 2012 to $2 billion in 2013.