Minnesota Business Leaders, Elected Officials, Sportsmen, and Environmental Groups Urge Congress to Support Wind Power

For Immediate Release

(Minneapolis, MN) - Today 35 Minnesota business leaders, elected officials, sportsmen, and environmental groups delivered a letter to Congress asking them to extend the Renewable Energy Production Tax Credit (PTC) and the Offshore Wind Investment Tax Credit (ITC) before they expire at the end of the year.

“Clean energy, including wind power, is an important part of our state – creating pollution-free energy, saving water, and supporting local jobs,” said Ken Bradley, Program Director for Environment Minnesota. “We are calling on Senators Klobuchar and Franken to work to extend the renewable energy Production Tax Credit and the offshore wind Investment Tax Credit as soon as possible this year to ensure a cleaner, healthier future for Minnesota.”

Hunters and anglers from Minnesota are among those urging Congress to extend the tax incentives that encourage the production of clean wind energy.  The PTC and ITC promote renewable-energy production and energy efficiency.  A recent National Wildlife Federation (NWF) poll found that 72% of hunters and anglers back renewable-energy solutions to our fuel and climate needs.

A NWF letter supporting the extension of these tax credits contains 118 sportsmen and conservation groups from across the country, including 10 from Minnesota.

“Minnesota has led the way in terms of clean energy alternatives and we can not afford to stop now,” said Gary Botzek, Executive Director of the Minnesota Conservation Federation. “Hunters and anglers in Minnesota understand that climate change is having an effect on our natural resources.  Incentives to use alternative fuels like wind energy are necessary and logical as we build our way out of fossil fuel dependence,” he added.

Currently, Minnesota gets nearly 13 percent of its electricity from wind power, a growing industry that employs 2000 to 3000 people across the state.  Nationwide, wind energy now powers nearly 13 million homes across the country, and it is on its way to being cost-competitive with traditional fossil fuels. But the two key federal wind power incentives—the production tax credit and the offshore wind investment tax credit —expire at the end of the year.

Despite the benefits of wind energy and widespread public support for federal policies to promote renewable energy, fossil fuel interests and their allies in Congress are vigorously opposing the PTC and ITC.

“We are aware that the fossil fuel lobby would like to see us disappear.  But we think if fossil fuels are going to enjoy preferential tax credit policy, then the whole energy sector should be at the table to decide on future tax reform,” stated Aaron Peterson, juwi Wind's Community Relations and Regulatory Affairs Manager.  Peterson is a former state legislator from west-central Minnesota and author of Minnesota’s Renewable Electricity Standard.

"Wind is a bi-partisan issue: 80% of America's wind farms are in Republican held Congressional Districts.  And countless polls show that voters support renewable energy. U.S. House and Senate leaders need to overcome partisan bickering to pass a PTC extension in 2012,” said Peterson. “For wind energy, the PTC keeps us at the table and will help chart a clean energy future for America."

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, more and more Americans are recognizing the damaging effects of global warming and the importance of clean energy. According to a new Environment Minnesota Research & Policy Center report, current wind power generation in Minnesota prevents as much global warming pollution as taking 757,000 cars off the road per year, and could prevent as much as taking an additional 609,000 cars off the road in 2016 if progress continues.

“Minnesota has become a leader in wind energy because of strong local policies for wind combined with critical federal incentives for clean energy. In addition to cleaner air and water, wind manufacturing provides jobs and is important to the local economy in the western suburbs of the twin cities,” said Tim Hultmann, Mayor of Long Lake. “But there is more progress to be made. To continue moving forward towards a cleaner, healthier future in Minnesota, it is important that Congress extends federal incentives for wind energy, including the Production Tax Credit and Investment Tax Credit.”

Without these critical tax credits, many planned wind farms will not be built, leaving health and environmental benefits for Minnesotans on the table.

“Wind power can help deliver a future with cleaner air, fewer extreme weather events, and smart use of our water resources,” said Bradley. “Time is running out.  We thank Senators Franken and Klobuchar for supporting clean, renewable wind power and urge them to do everything they can to extend the renewable energy production tax credit and offshore wind investment tax credit before the end of the year.  Our clean air, water, and children’s future depend on it.”

Contact:

Environment Minnesota Field Associate Michelle Hesterberg, 612-331-3315 (o), 651-206-9685 (c), mhesterberg@environmentamerica.org

Minnesota Conservation Federation Executive Director Gary Botzek 651-293-9295 (o), 651-283-4511 (c), gary@capitolconnections.com

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Environment Minnesota is a statewide, citizen-based, environmental advocacy organization working toward a cleaner, greener, healthier future.

The Minnesota Conservation Federation is a common sense conservation organization made up of hunters, anglers and others who are dedicated to the enjoyment, education and ethical use of our natural resources.

juwi is a German-based company active in 15 countries and is a full-spectrum renewable energy provider in solar, wind, biomass, biogas, electric mobility, and building efficiency.