The wind and solar power industries have hired lobbying firms with strong GOP ties to make sure the Republican-controlled Congress and Trump administration maintain key tax subsidies for green energy production.
As Congress prepares to take on tax reform, green energy providers want to make sure their tax subsidies are kept in place or at least replaced with something equivalent.
The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) brought on two GOP-connected lobbying groups this year — Bracewell LLP and Holland & Hart LLP. AWEA specifically tapped Bracewell’s Curtis Beaulieu, former tax policy counsel to Republican Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, and longtime lobbyist Scott Segal.
AWEA also hired Holland & Hart lobbyist Bill Myers, Department of the Interior solicitor during the Bush administration, according to lobbying disclosure forms. AWEA has paid Bracewell lobbyists $10,000 for services in 2017.
Tax credits for wind energy production are on track to be phased out by 2020, but AWEA has been promoting wind energy as a major job creator in middle America to match up with President Donald Trump’s emphasis on manufacturing jobs.
“We’ve always talked about jobs in the wind industry because we do have an exciting story to tell,” Tom Kiernan, AWEA’s CEO, told Bloomberg BNA in May. “The growth is approximately nine times faster than the average industry in the country.”
In May, Democratic lawmakers introduced a bill to extend tax subsidies for offshore wind farms to 2025. The wind industry supports more than 100,000 jobs, including 25,000 in manufacturing, according to AWEA.
Wind outfits have a long history of working with Republican lawmakers from the Midwest. Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley supports pro-wind power policies since his state gets nearly 40 percent of its energy from wind turbines. Only coal supplies more electricity to Iowans.
Statoil Wind U.S., a subsidiary of the Norwegian state-owned oil company, and the solar company Sunrun have hired the lobbying firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck to push for tax subsidies for green energy.
Statoil hired Brownstein lobbyists Jon Hrobsky and Luke Johnson, both former Bush administration Interior Department officials.
Sunrun hired Lori Harju, a former senior advisor to House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady, and Brian Wild, who advised former Speaker of the House John Boehner and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy.
Sunrun hired the GOP lobbyists to work Capitol Hill and the president’s National Economic Council, according to filings. Sunrun paid the firm $20,000 for lobbying in 2017. The firm also hired Elizabeth Maier, erstwhile legislative director to former Republican Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl.
The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) once again paid former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, who now works at Patton Squire Boggs, to lobby Congress and the Trump administration on tax credits for solar energy.
SEIA paid Lott and Dave Schnittger, a 21-veteran of GOP Capitol Hill offices, $80,000 to lobby on solar energy tax credits so far in 2017, according to regulatory filings.
Solar energy investment tax credits are on track to be reduced to cover just 10 percent of project costs by 2022.
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