As the Pueblo Chieftain's Peter Roper reports, a story with great significance to Colorado's economy:
The federal wind power tax credit, which Vestas and other windturbine producers rely on to support sales, is back in the cross hairs of conservative energy groups that want it eliminated…
The wind credit was one of the high-profile issues President Barack Obama campaigned for in 2012, the last time it was set to expire, and bipartisan supporters in windpower states extended the tax credit through 2013 after that election.
That extension allowed Vestas and other windpower companies to enter multiyear production contracts that are still fueling production at their factories, including the Vestas plant south of Pueblo.
The Hill reports that national conservative organizing group Americans for Prosperity, which has a large budget in Colorado, is leading the charge against the renewal of the wind production tax credit:
The conservative Americans for Prosperity (AFP) is publishing advertisements pushing individual Republicans to oppose tax credits for wind energy.
The ads launched Monday in the hometown newspapers of 15 GOP representatives in eight states who have not given clear positions on the wind energy production tax credit since it expired at the end of last year…
“It’s important that these members go on the record to let their constituents know that even during the little-watched lame-duck session of Congress, they’re committed to opposing needless corporate handouts at taxpayer expense,” Brent Gardner, AFP’s top federal lobbyist, said in a statement Monday.
Americans for Prosperity played a significant role in get-out-the-vote operations for Republicans this year, and funded a lavish ad campaign in support for Sen.-elect Cory Gardner. With that said, at least on the issue of renewing the wind production tax credit, Gardner is not quite giving this Koch brothers-funded organization their money's worth:
A spokesman said Gardner noted the congressman backed the 2012 extension and still supports extending it again — but ramped down over time.
At least not yet! This isn't the first time that Gardner has had to thread the needle between supporting Colorado's renewable energy industry, which he is obliged to do as any kind of responsible representative of the state, and conservative dogmatic opposition to any kind of "government subsidy" of this or that particular energy source. Groups like Americans for Prosperity say they're for eliminating all tax credits and so-called subsidies of energy production and "letting the free market decide." It's a convenient position to take as long as actually stripping the traditional energy industry of its many tax credits and subsidies remains politically impossible, which it of course is. In the meantime, AFP can make their hypocritical case against wind power tax credits without appearing so colossally hypocritical.
All of which works fine in states that do not have thousands of jobs tied to the wind power industry. Here in Colorado, these tax credits have a direct, tangible value in high-paying manufacturing jobs–the kinds of jobs that support many more jobs. Jobs we can't afford to lose.
That is why Gardner wants to "ramp down" these tax credits to keep his benefactors happy–just not right now, for the sake of pesky constituents back home who depend on them. That might make mortgages and college educations harder to plan for, but now that he's Colorado's junior U.S. Senator, Gardner can straddle this issue without conseqeunce for at least a few years.
And that appears to be what the voters want, folks.