A Battle Over The Wind Production Tax Credit In Iowa
On Monday, presumptive presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s campaign announced that he opposes any extension of the wind Production Tax Credit (PTC), set to expire at the end of the year.
The wind industry has been a huge success story in Iowa, touting the most wind energy jobs of any state and ranking second behind Texas in wind generation. It's also played an important role for Minnesota's growing wind industry. For this reason, the state’s top elected leaders and its entire Congressional delegation recognize the PTC as a crucial incentive for the wind industry.
It’s not surprising, then, that Romney’s newly publicized stance on the wind PTC does not sit well with leaders from our neighbors to the south. Following the announcement, Iowa’s senior Senator Chuck Grassley and Governor Terry Branstad, both conservatives, quickly questioned the nominee’s decision.
Grassley says he is not convinced that this is what the Massachusetts Governor really wants, and is disappointed Romney’s campaign did not consult him on this issue, calling himself the “father of the wind energy tax credit."
Branstad also indicated skepticism that the campaign announced the nominee’s true intentions and expressed interest in further educating Romney on this issue.
The wind PTC only applies to wind energy developers, a growing area in both Minnesota and Iowa. But wind manufacturers would feel the crunch too if the PTC expired as orders for turbines, towers, generators and parts would decline.
Over the last few months I have written about the impacts that letting the wind PTC expire will have on the industry, especially considering the industry’s rapid growth in the Upper Midwest over the last 10 years, and the ripple effects of a slowdown on Midwest communities.
Although experts predict that nothing will happen on the extension before the election, policymakers from both sides of the aisle have repeatedly supported extending the PTC, and the U.S. Senate Finance Committee is currently working on how to move forward with several federal tax credits.
Romney’s stance on the wind PTC puts him in direct opposition with President Obama, who has staunchly supported extending the tax credit. But a more interesting policy debate to watch this fall may be the one playing out in Iowa, as the conservatives' presidential candidate's views conflict with his political allies' state-level interests.