Post-Easter Push Expected to Extend Wind Energy Tax Credit
LAS VEGAS - A national wind energy tax credit that a local expert says is critical to Nevada construction jobs is at risk of being blown away by inaction in Congress. Some blame political gridlock, while others say it's the low cost of natural gas that's hurting the interest in wind.
Jim Walker, who lives in Henderson and is on the board of enXco, a company that develops and operates wind-energy projects, says the wind energy industry is at a critical stage and needs help to maintain momentum.
"I know at least a couple of projects up in northern Nevada that are being developed that are probably a couple hundred million dollars of investment, which means a lot of construction jobs in the next year or two - and the construction industry is one that really needs some support in the state."
Walker advised both the Ford and Nixon administrations on energy issues and he believes extending the tax credit will help wind projects branch out in the state and provide a significant portion of NV Energy's needs.
A bi-partisan group of senators plans to make another push for the extension when they return from the Easter recess.
Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa backs the idea of providing tax credits for wind energy production. He points out the industry has grown from only 30 plants in 2004 to 400 wind-energy plants today nationwide.
"These manufacturers - and there's 37,000 jobs connected with wind nationally - they're going to shut down their manufacturing. And with high unemployment and the need for renewable energy, it seems to me that we would want to keep this going until they can be a mature industry."
Spring Valley, a 150 megawatt wind project, is currently under construction in White Pine County, and according to NV Energy will involve 225 construction jobs. An even bigger project, China Mountain, is in the development stages for Jackpot Nevada.
The bill is the American Energy and Job Promotion Act (Senate 2201).