Sen. Udall backs wind-power tax credit for jobs. At what cost?

By | November 16th, 2012

“We need to renew that [wind energy] production tax credit. Why? Well, it’s encouraged billions of investment and created tens of thousands of good paying American jobs all across our country.”

So said U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, D.-Colo., who is working hard at establishing himself as a chief spokesman in Congress for extending the Wind Energy Production Tax Credit (PTC) for at least one or two more years. That tax credit supports generation of wind and other non-solar “alternative” energy sources.

Sen. Udall’s view of the U.S. energy sector may be skewed.

Consider this from National Review Online:

“The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) has repeatedly claimed that if the PTC isn’t extended, 37,000 wind-related jobs will be lost. Now consider the figures from the Joint Committee on Taxation, the non-partisan congressional entity established in 1926 that assists legislators on tax-related matters. Their number crunchers put the cost of extending the PTC at $12.18 billion from 2013 to 2022. Divide that figure by the 37,000 jobs claimed by AWEA, and you get $329,000 per job.

Over 10 years, that tax credit equates to $32,900 per job, per year, the article notes.

Free-market advocates, including Americans for Tax Reform and Americans for Prosperity, say the government should get out of the business of picking winners and losers.

“It’s time for government to stop meddling in America’s energy markets,” wrote AFP / Colorado director Jeff Crank in September. “New energy technologies should show their value in the marketplace by competing for consumers’ dollars on a level playing field—not by petitioning Washington for favors.”

Udall’s website appears to be laying the foundation to document that he is leading the charge to preserve the 20-year old industry subsidy that was enacted during President George H.W. Bush’s Administration:

“Udall has given 21 speeches and will continue to address the Senate each day until it acts on the Production Tax Credit.”

Udall, who is running for re-election in 2014, has a dedicated page on his Senate website for the PTC and profiles various states, including Colorado, that have significant wind power resources.

The above video, of Udall’s remarks on the Senate floor, spotlights Montana.

“We’ve got to get the [Wind Energy] Production Tax Credit over the finish line and affirm our solid commitment in this chamber to made-in-America energy and American manufacturing. And, it’s this simple, Mr. President, if we fail to extend the PTC we are in effect shipping thousands of jobs overseas to places like Europe and China and our foreign competitors. We risk losing thousands of jobs and crippling an industry that’s just now establishing itself as a very important part of our economic portfolio.”