Reenew Wisconsin: Extend Renewable Energy Tax Credits, Leaders Write



Michael Vickerman


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Several energy-related Wisconsin businesses and organizations urged House of Representative leaders and Wisconsin’s congressional delegation in a recent letter to reauthorize a federal tax credit for renewable energy projects that expired last year.

Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz also called for passage of the bill in a separate, but similar, letter.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Senate adopted legislation that extended the renewable energy production tax credit (PTC) through 2006. This tax credit provides for a 1.8 cent per kilowatt hour credit for electricity generated from windpower and other renewable energy sources. With the tax credit windpower is cost-competitive with electricity produced from new coal-fired plants.

The letters urge the House to “take prompt action in adopting a companion measure” reauthorizing the renewable energy PTC.

“The City of Madison,” wrote Cieslewicz, “strongly supports policies that would increase the amount of renewable electricity serving Madison homes and businesses.”

The letter from businesses and organizations was signed by Artha Renewable Energy, Amherst; Gimme Shelter Construction, Amherst; Global Energy Systems, Stevens Point; Lake Michigan Wind & Sun, Ltd., Sturgeon Bay; Madison Gas & Electric, Madison; MSB Energy Associates, Middleton; Ritger Law Office, Random Lake; Wisconsin Energy Conservation Corporation (WECC), Madison; Wisconsin Federation of Cooperatives, Madison; RENEW Wisconsin, Madison; and, the Municipal Electric Utilities of Wisconsin in Sun Prairie.

Michael Vickerman, executive director of RENEW Wisconsin, noted that Wisconsin’s utilities are committed to adding more than 400 megawatts of wind generation before 2006.

“It’s not possible to line up financing for these projects until the tax credit is in place,” Vickerman said. “That’s why the letter says the damage to the state’s economy grows each day that the renewable energy PTC remains in limbo.”

The letters were addressed to House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Illinois), Republican Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas), and Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-California).

They were copied to all of Wisconsin’s representatives in the House: Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Janesville), Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Madison), Rep. Ron Kind (D-LaCrosse), Rep. Gerald Kleczka (D-Milwaukee), Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner (R-Menomonee Falls), Rep. Tom Petri

(R-Fond du Lac), Rep. David Obey (D-Wausau), and Rep. Mark Green (R-Oneida).

The PTC language as contained in the bill passed by the Senate calls for:

– Extending the PTC through December 31, 2006 (a 3-year extension);

– Expanding the PTC to include solar, geothermal, small irrigation hydro power, municipal solid waste, and additional forms of biomass energy production;

– Creating an exemption from the requirements of the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) for the first four years of wind turbine operations; and,

– Allowing a tradable credit for the following tax-exempt entities only: rural electric cooperatives, state agencies and municipalities, Indian Tribal governments, and the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA).