Representatives Earl Blumenauer (OR-03) and Tom Cole (OK-04) introduced the Rural Wind Energy Development Act to provide an investment tax credit to ranchers, farmers, and small businesses to offset the up-front costs of owning a distributed wind turbine. This modest expansion of current law will keep small business energy jobs growing across the United States.
Small wind turbines (generating up to 20 MW) lets farmers, ranchers, and other consumers cut their energy bills and, at times, sell power back into the grid. They also allow thousands of businesses—from “mom and pop” stores, to retailers, to ranches, and to breweries—to reduce their energy load, to help clean the environment, and to save money. The Department of Energy’s national laboratories estimate that community wind generates a strong economic multiplier for local communities, helping rural areas rebound from challenging economic times.
“Community wind energy not only creates American-produced electricity, but American jobs as well,” said Blumenauer. “Approximately 90% of distributed wind turbines sold in the U.S. are made here, according to domestic manufacturing content, creating non-exportable, family wage jobs.”
“I am pleased to once again work with my friend and colleague in furthering the success of the same credit we worked to create in 2008,” said Cole. “Not only does the credit play an important role in encouraging and developing an all-of-the-above energy approach for our nation, but it also ensures that America continues to be a leader in innovation. By modestly increasing this credit, we can continue to encourage economic development, especially in our rural communities.”
The existing investment credits, which may be taken in lieu of the federal Production Tax Credit for large-scale wind projects, have worked very well, but are too limiting. This bill strikes the existing 100 kW nameplate limitation for small wind systems, and expands the maximum wind turbine size to 20 MW line with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission definition of distributed wind power.
The authors say this will provide stability and certainty for the distributed wind market and unlock the necessary investment to grow our global leadership role in distributed wind power, while helping Americans take advantage of clean, renewable, affordable power.
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