U.S. Reps. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., and Tom Cole, R-Okla., have introduced the Rural Wind Energy Development Act to provide an investment tax credit to ranchers, farmers and small businesses to offset the up-front costs of owning a distributed wind turbine. According to the lawmakers, the bill would expand current law and help keep small business energy jobs growing across the U.S.
The legislators says small wind turbines allow farmers, ranchers and other consumers to cut energy bills and, at times, sell power back into the grid. They also allow thousands of businesses – including "mom and pop" stores, retailers, ranches and breweries – to reduce their energy load, help clean the environment and save money.
"Community wind energy not only creates American-produced electricity, but American jobs as well," says Blumenauer. "Approximately 90 percent of distributed wind turbines sold in the U.S. are made here, according to domestic manufacturing content, creating non-exportable, family wage jobs."
The legislators say the existing investment credits, which may be taken in lieu of the federal production tax credit for large-scale wind projects, have worked very well but are too limiting. This bill strikes the existing 100 kW nameplate limitation for small wind systems and adds the opportunity to obtain credits for small wind projects with an aggregate capacity limitation of 20 MW, in line with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission definition of distributed wind power.
Blumenauer and Cole say this will provide stability and certainty for the distributed wind market and unlock the necessary investment to grow a global leadership role in distributed wind power.
The Distributed Wind Energy Association has commended the legislators for introducing the bill.
"I applaud Representatives Blumenauer and Cole for their leadership at this critical time for our industry," says Jennifer Jenkins, executive director of the association, in a press release. "This industry is bigger than just one job or one type of turbine."