Thursday, July 5, 2012

White House Stumps For Wind Power Development

Obama Administration officials are using the Independence Day holiday week to press for more development of wind power around the country. Administration officials speaking in North St. Paul Minnesota and along the Atlantic coast are busy urging Congress to quickly pass an extension of the wind power tax credits which will expire at year end, and touting completion of the federal environmental assessment of 164,000 acres of potential offshore wind turbine leases by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.

Senate Appropriation Subcommittee on Interior and Environment Chairman Jack Reed says he is “striving to make Rhode Island a national leader in offshore wind development, and helping to bring assembly and manufacturing jobs to the state.” Interior Secretary Ken Salazar says the United States is now harnessing 21% of global wind power capacity, emerging as a leader in the field. Ocean Energy Management Director Tommy Beaudreau says completion of the environmental assessment “sets the stage for moving forward aggressively with lease sales” in the area running along the Atlantic coast from 11 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard to 13 miles east of Block Island.

Meanwhile, White House Council on Environmental Quality Chairman Nancy Sutley, speaking at a news conference from the base of a 115 foot Minnesota Municipal Power wind turbine in North St. Paul, urged Congress to act now by passing legislation extending tax credits of 2.2 cents per kilowatt hour for wind power generation, and 30% tax credit for investment in equipment used to manufacture clean energy components in this country. “When Congress puts its mind to it, something can be done fairly quickly,” Sutley said.

Other speakers representing wind developers, engineering concerns and manufacturers of wind generating equipment at the same conference pointed out, however, that Congressional inaction on the tax credit extension has already produced staff cuts at their companies, and the last time the production tax credit expired, new wind farm installations fell by 73% on a year over year basis.

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