Sunday, January 30, 2005

North Dakota Sen. Pushes to Extend Wind Tax Credits

Posted on Sun, Jan. 30, 2005

Conrad pushes wind energy incentivesHerald Staff Report
Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., said Friday that he has introduced a bill that would give the wind energy industry more incentives to expand than it now receives.
The incentives, known as wind energy production tax credits, give utilities tax breaks based on how many kilowatt-hours they produce.
Currently, the credits are renewed annually by Congress, but delays in renewal have been frequent. The current legislation expires at the end of the year.
Conrad proposes a five-year extension.
This could win more jobs for wind-swept North Dakota, he said.
Stop and start
The stop-and-start nature of wind energy legislation has been bothersome to the industry.
"The short-term duration of the federal production tax credit and its repeated expirations - three in the past six years - are keeping this industry from reaching its potential," said Randall Swisher, executive director of the American Wind Energy Association, in a statement.
The Washington, D.C.-based lobby group reported that the industry added 389 megawatts in capacity in 2004, a sharp contrast to the year before when 1,687 megawatts were added.
A megawatt can supply 240 to 300 average American homes, according to the AWEA.
In 2005, North Dakota is expected to add 20 megawatts, bringing the total capacity to 86 megawatts, according to Conrad's office.
Big potential
Production tax credits might help North Dakota grow its production by another 150 to 200 megawatts, according to wind energy advocates in the state.
Conrad's office said, if a single 100-megawatt wind farm were built, the state could reap as much as $187 million in additional economic activity from the construction, and create as many as 2,200 jobs statewide.
But to fully realize the state's 4,722 megawatt potential, wind advocates have said repeatedly, would require an infrastructure upgrade to bring electricity to major markets, such as the Twin Cities.
A bill before the North Dakota Legislature would create a transmission authority that would help speed the development of new power lines to electric markets.
The bill is HB1169.