Joann Knight: Extend wind tax credit

12/26/2013 12:00 AM

12/24/2013 4:00 PM

Thanks in part to a bipartisan policy, the federal production tax credit, wind power has brought thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in investment into our state.

Kansas wind power keeps the lights on for more than 800,000 homes. That puts us at ninth in the nation in installed wind capacity.

Kansans of all political persuasions have embraced wind power and the PTC as a way to grow our economy and promote manufacturing here at home, all while helping to promote diversity on the grid and secure our energy independence. Together with the 1,592 turbines in the ground in Kansas, the PTC is writing an American success story.

A market-based incentive, the production tax credit only rewards projects for actually producing power, so money goes only where it should. Wind developers must use due diligence when deciding where to place new wind installations. In Kansas, the second-windiest state in the country in terms of potential power, this means we could easily meet the entire state’s electrical demand.

There have been times when the PTC has been allowed to lapse. When it did, we lost jobs and opportunities for development. Since 1999, the PTC has expired four times, each time bringing a wave of uncertainty and leaving the industry on unsure footing.

Wind power has soldiered on even in the face of unpredictable policies that leave companies unable to plan for the long term, but this is no way to build a major new energy industry. Congress is learning, and recent changes to the PTC have allowed developers and manufacturers a little more certainty, but still not the level of consistency needed.

Kansans have the opportunity to harness a proven, reliable and affordable technology that uses no fuel or water and produces no pollution, but more long-term stability is needed. Congress needs an energy policy that ensures companies and developers are able to plan for the years ahead.

Kansans have benefited from $5 billion of capital investment in wind power into our state, and direct payback of nearly $8 million annually goes to farmers and landowners in the form of land lease payments. Combined with significant taxes paid to state and local authorities, this translates into improved schools, rural economic development, and a valuable hedge for farmers when the going gets tough.

With the proper policies in place, the Sunflower State has the opportunity to lead this American energy revolution. A multiyear extension of the PTC will allow Kansans to reap the benefits of a strong, dependable wind-power industry. Considering that seven manufacturers in the wind supply chain already call Kansas home, an extension of the PTC will be good news for our state.

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