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Co. Lawmakers Fight to Save Expiring Wind Energy Tax Credit

Courtesy of Vestas Wind Systems

Eight members of Colorado’s Congressional delegation are calling on Congress to save a federal tax credit for the wind industry. The bipartisan group delivered a letter ahead of a committee meeting on Tuesday.

The production tax credit helps offset the cost of electricity production during a wind farm’s first ten years. Colorado lawmakers say it’s helped the state weather the economic downturn. And if it’s not extended by the end of the year, industry officials say U.S. jobs could be at risk.

The letter asks for the incentive to be included in the payroll tax reduction package Congress is currently negotiating – along with a way to pay for it.

Senator Mark Udall calls the extension of the credit a smart investment that’s worth the upfront cost.

“He’s very concerned that if they don’t pass this energy tax credit soon, it will jeopardize Colorado jobs, our future in the wind industry and Colorado as a leader in renewable energy,” spokeswoman Tara Trujillo says.

Colorado is home to several major wind energy developers and turbine manufacturing facilities, employing roughly 6,000 workers across the state. 

The group of lawmakers signing the letter includes Democratic Senators Mark Udall and Michael Bennet, Democratic Reps. Diana DeGette, Ed Perlmutter, and Jared Polis, as well as Republican Reps. Cory Gardner, Scott Tipton and Mike Coffman.

Republican Congressman Doug Lamborn of Colorado Springs is the only delegation member not to sign on. 

[Update 2/8/12]

In an statement emailed after this story was posted, Lamborn said the following:

“I support wind as part of an all-of-the-above energy plan. As Chairman of the Natural Resources subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources, I recently helped pass H.R. 2173, the Advancing Offshore Wind Production Act through the full committee. That bill would reduce regulatory barriers for the wind industry in seeking permits on federal lands.   

“My preference is to help industry grow by reducing federal regulations and mandates as opposed to carving out special interests in the tax code.”

As the host of KUNC’s new program and podcast In the NoCo, I work closely with our producers and reporters to bring context and diverse perspectives to the important issues of the day. Northern Colorado is such a diverse and growing region, brimming with history, culture, music, education, civic engagement, and amazing outdoor recreation. I love finding the stories and voices that reflect what makes NoCo such an extraordinary place to live.
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