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FILE -- Former West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin talks to reporters during a news conference in Tallmansville, West Virginia in this Jan. 4, 2006 file photo. (REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/File) FILE -- Former West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin talks to reporters during a news conference in Tallmansville, West Virginia in this Jan. 4, 2006 file photo. (REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/File)  

Senate coalition looks to end wind subsidies

A bipartisan coalition of senators is urging lawmakers to allow tax credits for wind power production to expire at the end of this year, saying that 20 years of taxpayers subsidies is enough.

The wind production tax credit is set to expire at the end of this year, and there is a growing effort on the part of some lawmakers to make sure it doesn’t continue.

“Our nation’s energy policy must make economic sense for taxpayers and not manipulate markets,” writes a group of 10 senators, including West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin.

“Continuation of the wind PTC not only picks winners and losers, it is distorting our energy markets and it’s past time to end a temporary tax credit that was put into law in 1992,” continues the letter to Senate Finance Committee leadership.

Manchin was the only Democrat to sign the letter, but Republican signatories ranged from more moderate members like Arizona Sen. John McCain and Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander to conservatives like South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott and Utah Sen. Mike Lee.

There is some uncertainty surrounding the fate of the wind PTC, as the most draft proposals for comprehensive tax reform put forward by Democratic Montana Sen. Max Baucus left the fate of such renewable energy tax subsidies up in the air.

“[W]hile the staff discussion draft slows down the cost recovery of certain energy assets, the Chairman’s staff is considering improving and making permanent certain energy tax credits set to expire in 2013,” reads Baucus’s draft legislation.

However, lawmakers looking to repeal wind subsidies face fierce opposition, even among their own party. On Monday, two groups of liberal lawmakers wrote to key House and Senate committee leaders, asking for wind tax credits — along with other green energy subsidies — to be extended.

“These tax credits have helped scale up production and drive down the cost of clean energy technologies,” wrote members of the House Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition. “They remain critical to addressing the market failures that prevent cost-effective, market-ready technologies from being deployed to their full potential. With continued support, clean energy will help Americans save money on their energy bills and reduce harmful pollution.”

It is unlikely, however, that any sort of tax deal will be agreed to by the end of the year, so the fate of wind tax subsidies, along with other green tax subsidies, will likely hinge on congressional approval.

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