Government Could Hurt Wind Farm Development - KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

Government Could Hurt Wind Farm Development

Brad Christopher, Project Manager, Wilderado Wind Ranch Brad Christopher, Project Manager, Wilderado Wind Ranch

The wind industry is in a struggle with Congress.

Legislators hold the key to tax credits that keep wind farms financially viable.

Power lines are on the verge of being built to harvest wind power from the Panhandle and feed it to metro areas in the state.

But a Production Tax Credit from the Federal Government is set to expire at the end of the year, and could alter future wind farm development if it's not extended.

"The Production Tax Credits are the catalyst that keeps the wind industry going at this point. With out tax credits the developers don't want to develop a project. Tax Credits are usually the make or break on a project being built," said Brad Christopher, the project manager at Wilderado Wind Ranch.

The production tax credit pays about 20 dollars per megawatt hour.

So a single wind turbine like one at Wildorado, can make up to 45 dollars an hour or over 400 thousand dollars a year.

This money is essential for developers because it can cost hundreds of million dollars to build a wind farm.

"Most of the companies I've visited with say wind energy would not be financially feasible without this federal tax credit that goes with production," said Congressman Mac Thornberry.

"The Production Tax Credit has been around for a few years and it's been on an on again off again cycle. Three times in the past it was not extended," said James Wester, an Amarillo wind expert and attorney for Underwood Law Firm.

In the past decade, the years in which a tax credit was not offered, development plummeted and during times when the credit has been extended for multiple years, the wind industry explodes.

"In the Energy Bill I introduced last year I extended it for 10 years, because I thought that was the best answer to giving some certainty to the market," Thornberry said.

Thornberry is working to get signatures, in order to bring his energy bill to the floor.

We'll continue to track this legislation's progress.

Powered by Frankly