- The U.S. Senate rejected a five-year extension of the production tax credit for wind generation, with the measure failing 47-51, the Hill reports.
- U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp, a Democrat from North Dakota, had put forth the measure as an amendment to Keystone Pipeline legislation which was ultimately passed.
- Heitkamp criticized lawmakers voting against the "common sense proposal," which she said would incentivize job growth in renewable energy industries as well as adding cleaner power to the mix.
As part of the bill to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, Sen. Heitkamp proposed extending the production tax credit for five years, which she said was needed to provide certainty for wind energy workers across the country. In North Dakota alone, Heitkamp said up to 3,000 jobs were supported by the wind production industry in 2013.
“There are a lot of Senators that talk about supporting an all-of-the-above energy strategy, but clearly many don’t actually mean it,” said Heitkamp.
President Obama has promised to veto
the Keystone bill, setting up a showdown with a newly-elected Republican Congress. The senate passed the pipeline bill on Thursday.
According to the American Wind Energy Association, the U.S. industry rebounded in 2014, with over four times more new wind energy coming online than in 2013. Last year saw the completion of 4,854 MW in generating capacity, with cumulative installed capacity increasing 8%, to a total of 65,879 MW.
However, the amount installed in 2014 falls far short of the record 13,000 MW that the U.S. wind energy industry was able to complete during 2012.
“Wind is gaining strength, but as recent history shows, we can do a whole lot more,” said AWEA CEO Tom Kiernan. “We’re looking forward to working with Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle so that a reasonable, responsible tax policy is in place that allows the wind industry to continue lowering costs and investing billions of dollars in U.S. communities.”
Heitkamp said the country cannot leave wind power out of the mix as the United States works to maintain its energy security.
“As we continue to calculate a path forward for our energy infrastructure, and for fossil fuels like oil, gas, and coal – which I have long supported – we simply cannot leave wind power out of the equation," Heitkamp said. "In North Dakota, we support all energy resources and our state is the sixth largest producer of wind energy. ... It’s disappointing that some Senators – many who supported wind energy in the past – didn’t back this common sense proposal."