DURING a time when the federal government has sequestered the American public, bailed out the big boys and thrown the working class off a fiscal cliff, our government continues to support unnecessary subsidies and projects that West Virginia taxpayers can't afford.
One particular project, the wind Production Tax Credit, has already cost taxpayers $12 billion dollars this year and it will continue to put our energy industries in jeopardy unless Congress allows it to expire at the end of 2013, as planned.
The wind Production Tax Credit is collecting massive subsidies while coal plants are closing and the government is struggling to stay open and pay its own bills.
It just doesn't make sense.
Originally enacted by the Energy Policy Act of 1992, the wind Production Tax Credit (PTC) expired in July 1999 but it has been renewed, expanded and extended numerous times since, with the most recent revision in last year's budget agreement.
The PTC is a per-kilowatt-hour tax credit for electricity generated by qualified energy resources. In the case of wind, the amount is 2.3 cents per kilowatt-hour.
Instead of trimming the fat during the recession, Congress made the PTC more generous in 2009 by expanding eligibility from wind turbines in service to those that simply begin construction. The new legislation also permits PTC-eligible technologies to take a 30 percent tax credit or an equivalent cash grant from the U.S. Department of Treasury, in lieu of the PTC.
According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Washington has spent around $8.4 billion on these grants since 2012.
The subsidy, as modified by the fiscal cliff legislation, attaches to a wind farm when it's under construction and continues for its first ten years of operation. Even after the PTC's expiration, a wind farm built in 2013 will continue to receive our tax dollars until 2023.