Lawmakers table small wind ITC bill

Two US representatives have introduced legislation to provide an investment tax credit to ranchers, farmers and small businesses to offset the up-front costs of owning a distributed wind turbine.

Representatives Earl Blumenauer, an Oregon Democrat, and Tom Cole, an Oklahoma Republican, say their Rural Wind Energy Development Act will expand current law and keep small business energy jobs growing across the United States.

They note that 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 100kW nameplate limitation for small wind systems.

They contend this will provide stability and certainty for the distributed wind market and unlock the necessary investment to grow US global leadership role in distributed wind power.

Turbines used in these applications can range in size from a few hundred watts to multi-megawatts, and can help power remote, off-grid homes and farms as well as local schools and manufacturing facilities. Over the past ten years, the U.S. distributed wind market has grown more than five-fold.

A 2012 report by the US Energy Department (DOE) and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory found that distributed wind in the US reached a 10-year cumulative installed capacity of more than 812MW – representing more than 69,000 units across all 50 states.

Most distributed wind buyers continue to choose small wind turbines, which have a rated capacity of no greater than 100kW.

DOE estimates that community wind generates a strong economic multiplier for local communities, helping rural areas rebound from challenging economic times.

“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,” says Blumenauer.

Adds 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.”