Chu urges renewal of wind tax credits


Energy Secretary Steven Chu visit to Wisconsin Thursday was in part to push for renewal of tax credits for the wind power industry. It’s an issue that divides Republicans.

Secretary Chu toured the Ingeteam corporation in Milwaukee, a company that makes components for wind turbines. Ingeteam hopes to add about 250 employees over the next few years. But Chu contends major cutbacks are possible in the U.S. wind industry, if congress doesn’t act this year to renew a tax credit that goes to operators of wind farms. Chu says this should be the last time the wind industry needs the subsidy, and only for about another 8 years.

The wind production tax credit seems popular with republican members of congress from windy states, that have a lot of wind turbines. But the campaign of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is less than clear about continuing the credit. Campaign spokesman Ben Sparks would rather talk about the economic stimulus package of two years ago.

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Sparks repeatedly uses the term “risky green energy projects”, but won’t say if that includes the wind-related work done by dozens of Wisconsin companies, like Ingeteam. A spokesperson for Republican house member and possible vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan also declined to give a yes or no answer on whether Ryan would vote to continue the wind production tax credit.