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Wind Energy Industry: Turbines Power Down Energy Prices

PHOTO: Bob Fagen, senior associate at Synapse Energy Econmics, Inc.
PHOTO: Bob Fagen, senior associate at Synapse Energy Econmics, Inc.
September 24, 2012

Home and business energy costs have been falling in the Midwest, and the wind industry is claiming partial credit. Bob Fagen with Synapse Energy Economics says while it's a win for consumers, other energy sectors aren't pleased, and that's why traditional energy producers have begun a campaign to try to derail renewal of the wind production tax credit (PTC), which is pending in Congress.

"When the wind turbine is built and is available, it runs. And when it runs, that generally means that natural gas-fired or coal-fired plants do not run, so it puts downward pressure on prices."

Fagen says the wind production tax credit isn't a loan, or a freebie, because there is no benefit until after production happens - and that means manufacturing jobs.

"The real issue is that wind is a clean, inexpensive energy resource - homegrown - and it makes a ton of sense to continue to promote the wind industry."

Wisconsin wind-power production is at 631 megawatts - enough for about 150,000 homes. The tax credit has been in place for about 20 years and has seen bi-partisan support - although this year, it is being debated on the campaign trail. Exelon Corporation executives voiced opposition to the wind PTC during a recent lobby day on Capital Hill sponsored by the Republican Study Committee, saying government funding should go to research and not production of components.

Deborah Courson Smith/Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - WI