February 25, 2012

Minnesota: Worry over wind energy tax credit expiring

It's money that's created several jobs in our area, but the wind energy tax credit is set to expire. The question now is should it be extended?

Mower County has invested a lot in renewable energy over the years and this past year received more money for wind energy programs than any county in the state, but that soon could be reduced severely.

"The Production Tax Credit bill has expired three other times and each time it was renewed. It's kind of a boom, bust scenario," says Steve Vietor, a wind/solar instructor at Riverland Community College.

Vietor says that an extension is needed to create jobs and reduce our dependency on things like foreign oil.

"The bottom line is that we know that we're going to see more and more companies investing in this. It's going to mean more production of components here in Minnesota and the United States and once again that's another area of jobs all related to giving us some kind of energy security," says Vietor.

But there are those that say the industry is well on their feet, not needing the money, despite being a relatively new one.

"I'm sure if you're looking on the other side of the fence you're saying  we don't need to invest here any longer because wind energy has picked up and people are dong it and wind towers are being developed throughout this part of the state as well as this part of the nation," says Rep. Jeanne Poppe, (R) Austin.

Ultimately, Vietor says while it's a large investment he says it's one that benefits the future of the industry and America's economy.

Vietor says, "There's people that wouldn't want them in their backyard, the wind turbines and I think there's people that also understand that it's a way to maybe have that energy security and spend that energy dollar here in Minnesota.”

The American Wind Energy Association says that about 30 percent of the units installed for the industry last year came from the Midwest.

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