Kitzhaber to urge Congress to pass wind tax credit extension

Gov. John Kitzhaber announced this week a new funding source for the

Gov. John Kitzhaber next week will urge Congress to pass an extension of the federal production tax credit for wind energy during its lame-duck session. 

Gov. John Kitzhaber on Tuesday will play a leading role in urging Congress to immediately pass an extension of the federal Production Tax Credit for wind energy.

The Governors Wind Energy Coalition, a bipartisan group of 28 governors supportive of the wind industry, will hold a news conference on Capital Hill at 8 a.m. to implore Congress to extend the credits during their upcoming lame-duck session.

Kitzhaber, co-chairman of the group, will participate by phone. Other governors involved are Iowa's Republican Gov. Terry Branstad, Sam Brownback of Kansas, and Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper. U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, who sponsored a bill to expand the tax credit, is also expected to participate.

Wind energy advocates are hopeful that the lame-duck session will produce an extension to the federal tax credit that's set to expire this year.

The program offers an income tax credit of 2.2 cents per kilowatt hour of energy produced from utility scale wind turbines. Supporters view it as a critical tool to helping make wind cost-competitive with other energy sources, while opponents criticize it as an unnecessary handout to support a technology that can’t stand on its own in the marketplace.

But bipartisan support has begun to emerge. The Senate Finance Committee tucked a one-year extension of the tax credit into a broader tax extender bill back in August.

Some of that may be influenced by the wind industry's forecasts of severe job loss. Data from Navigant Consulting that's quoted frequently by the American Wind Energy Association forecasts that as many 37,000 jobs could be lost by the first quarter of next year if the tax credit isn't extended.

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