“NO” on the Heitkamp Amendment Supporting the Wind Production Tax Credit
This afternoon, the Senate will vote on an amendment (SA 133) to the Keystone XL Pipeline Act (S. 1). The amendment, introduced by Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) 7%, expresses the sense of the Senate that the Wind Production Tax Credit and seven other now-expired tax credits for green energy production should be reauthorized and extended until 2020.
At the beginning of the year, special interest tax breaks for wind, closed-loop biomass, open-loop biomass, geothermal and solar energy facilities, landfill gas facilities, trash facilities, qualified hydropower facility, and marine and hydrokinetic renewable energy facilities expired. The Heitkamp amendment goes to great lengths to defend the renewal of the Wind PTC in particular:
“the wind energy industry and utilities require long-term certainty regarding the Production Tax Credit for project planning in order to continue build out of this valuable natural resource”
Although the subsidy has been on the books for more than two decades, the wind energy industry is still reliant upon taxpayer handouts. As one CEO said two years ago, the “extension [of the Wind PTC] makes it all finance-able. It will get us through another year.” The most recent one-year retroactive extension of the Wind PTC is estimated to cost taxpayers $6.4 billion. Lobbying for taxpayer dollars should not make-or-break someone’s business model. The Heritage Foundation’s Nick Loris explains:
“Rather than create a market in which the producer must innovate and lower costs to be competitive with other generating sources, companies spend more resources lobbying to receive these extensions. If a technology is profitable, however, the investments will occur with or without the subsidy.”
Reauthorizing and extending these expired policies reeks of favoritism and would move our nation’s energy policy in the wrong direction. All energy producers should be permitted to compete based on their economic viability and demand for their product, not the government’s inefficient and inappropriate intervention.
Heritage Action opposes the Heitkamp Amendment and will include it as a key vote on our legislative scorecard.