Wind credit should have been longer

Call it a partial victory.

Word that Congress had passed legislation extending the wind-energy production tax credit through 2013 prompted sighs of relief from supporters of renewable energy. The extension was included as part of legislation that helped avert the so-called “fiscal cliff” at year’s end.

Wind projects that begin construction during 2013 are eligible for the credit, which amounts to 2.2 cents per kilowatt hour built. Wind-energy advocates had warned that failure to renew the credit could have cost 37,000 jobs nationwide, including 6,000 in Colorado.

But this extension is only a partial reprieve. Far preferable would have been an extension through 2018, as advocated by the industry, which had pledged to end the production tax credit after that.

Extension of the production tax credit has been supported by both Colorado U.S. senators, Democrats Mark Udall and Michael Bennet, as well as other members of the congressional delegation. U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., supported an extension through 2018, with a phasing out of the credit.

Opponents of the production tax credit argue that it is a waste of money, subsidizing an industry that cannot stand on its own. But they disregard other subsidies for fossil fuels and ignore the environmental benefits of increasing the nation’s portfolio of renewable energy.

Indeed, the production tax credit should not be a partisan issue. Colorado is just one state that has seen the benefits of wind-energy manufacturing operations, and our entire economy has benefited from its growth.

While we’re grateful that the production tax credit was extended, we believe that it didn’t go far enough. An extension through 2018 would enable the industry to grow and wean itself from the tax credit, and would eliminate the year-to-year uncertainty that comes with annual debate on the credit’s merits.

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