What it will take for Montana and America to lead world’s wind power

Tester urges immediate passage of ‘make-or-break’ renewable energy tax credit

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Montana will help America become the world's leader in wind power next year, but only if Congress extends a "make-or-break" renewable energy tax credit now, Jon Tester said on the floor of the U.S. Senate today.

Opponents of the bill today blocked extension of the wind tax credit.  The measure, which expires at the end of the year, gives energy companies a tax credit of $20 for every megawatt of energy produced from renewable resources like wind.  A megawatt is enough energy to power 240-300 homes for one year.

"A tax credit of twenty bucks for every megawatt hour doesn't seem like much on the surface, but it adds up for energy companies," Tester said.  "It's a make-or-break tax credit for developers who plan on investing in wind projects in the future."

Wind energy currently powers more than 4.5 million homes in the United States.  Last year, the U.S. installed enough wind turbines to generate 5,200 megawatts (enough energy to power 1.5 million homes for an entire year).  The U.S. can overtake Germany as the world's leader in wind power next year, Tester said, but only if Congress extends the wind tax credit.

During his floor speech, Tester showed his colleagues a chart indicating how important the tax credit is for energy developers.  Wind energy development ballooned in years the tax credit was extended.  But wind energy fizzled in years the tax credit was unavailable.

"Right now wind developers are working out their financing for future projects," said Tester, a member of the Senate Energy Committee.  "Already this year things have started to slow as developers anxiously watch Congress."

In 2005, as President of the Montana Senate, Tester created a new tax classification to spur wind development in Montana, paving the way for Montana's largest wind farm near Judith Gap.  Tester also passed a measure requiring Montana utilities to generate 15 percent of their power from renewable resources like wind by the year 2015.

Tester said because of wind power, the U.S. is keeping 28 million tons of carbon dioxide pollution out of the air.  And wind energy is getting more and more affordable each year.  That's promising news in light of recent reports that power companies plan to raise rates by as much as 29 percent.

"That means ordinary folks all across this country are going to have to make some very difficult decisions as they sit around the kitchen table," Tester said.  "We can't afford to sit back and just talk about it.  It's time to get to work. And the work starts today by passing this extension today.  Not by waiting until the end of the year."

Video of Tester's entire floor speech is available online HERE.