Yesterday Rep. Kevin Cramer’s challenger, Democrat George Sinner, visited the LM Wind Power plant in Grand Forks and announced his support for an extension of the Production Tax Credit.
The PTC provides a massive 2.3 cent per kilowatt hour subsidy for wind power. It expired at the end of 2013, but wind power projects started before then got grandfathered in.
According to Sinner, the federal government needs to extend this subsidy yet again. “This industry needs only a few more years to be highly competitive,” he said per the Grand Forks Herald.
Cramer, though, says enough is enough. It’s time for the industry to sink or swim on its own:
“I don’t understand why the industry and the supporting industries were surprised on Dec. 31, 2013, because that was the certainty they sought in 2008 and 2009,” Cramer said in a phone interview. He said he was supportive of the extension at that time to break the cycle of short-term extensions, which made things difficult for the industry.
“I supported the certainty that a long-term extension created, but I also supported the end of it,” Cramer said. …
“I think it should have to work on its own, not with continued subsidy from the American taxpayer,” Cramer said.
It seems that every few years when the PTC is up for renewal we hear the wind industry and its supporters say they just need a “few more years” to get on their feet. And then a few years later we’re told the wind industry needs a few more years.
Maybe enough is enough. Wind power either works, providing reliable and affordable energy without need of taxpayer subsidy, or it doesn’t.
But you’ve got to admire Cramer for taking that stand. LM Wind Power employs hundreds of people in Grand Forks. The path of least political resistance would be to support the subsidies, thus taking away a talking point from Sinner.
Sometimes, what’s right is more important than what’s easy.
In related news, the Public Service Commnission is for the first time ever requiring that companies building wind farms put up a bond for reclamation. Those wind turbines don’t last forever. Eventually they wear out, and state leaders don’t want the countryside littered with defunct wind farms.