A recent column by Christine Harbin of Americans for Prosperity (“Congress faces first tax reform test,” Commentary, Nov. 26) recycles urban legends regarding the wind-energy Production Tax Credit (PTC).
To be clear, the PTC is tax relief, not a subsidy. Unless one assumes that all money earned in the private sector belongs to the government, a tax credit is clearly different from government subsidies or loan guarantees. The PTC only rewards results. As Karl Rove recently said, the PTC “is a market mechanism … not picking winners and losers.” He also noted that “for some period of time, we will provide this incentive as we scale up and get improvements in technology.”
It would seem that the column is supporting a national energy policy that picks “winners and losers” because it urges an end to government incentives only for wind while leaving many other incentives intact. Fossil fuels have received nearly $600 billion in federal support over the past century, including tax incentives still permanent in the U.S. tax code.
Tax relief for wind power, in contrast, always has been extended on a one- or two-year basis, hampering wind companies’ ability to plan and invest. Why should wind be the only energy source to lose its tax credit this year?
Extending tax relief to a sector that’s creating new U.S. manufacturing jobs is a decision of much more than “symbolic importance.” A study from Navigant Consulting found 37,000 jobs would be lost if the PTC is not extended. On the other hand, letting wind finish the job of creating a new U.S. energy sector would add 25,000 more jobs in just four years.
It also would support an “all-of-the-above” national energy policy to protect consumers against fuel price volatility and make our country more secure. That’s something members of Congress on both sides of the aisle can agree on.
Vice president, public affairs
American Wind Energy Association
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