The Presidential race is heating up and both candidates are making a push to win the election in November. While there are many issues affecting the vote, it may be beneficial to understand what the candidates have in mind when it comes to renewable energy. Wind energy, specifically, is a hot topic on the campaign trail for both President Obama and presidential hopeful Romney.
Right now, the federal Renewable Electricity Production Tax Credit (PTC) that has supported wind energy for almost 20 years will expire at the end of 2012. The president was in Iowa recently and spoke about the benefits of the wind energy solutions and the efforts his administration has made to increase wind energy usage.
“Homegrown energy, things like wind energy, is creating new jobs all across the states like Iowa,” Obama said at a rally held on Monday. “America now produces twice as much electricity from wind as we did before I took office.”
The president was shrewd to bring up this topic in Iowa, where wind energy is a massive industry. The enormous amount of rural farmland serves as a perfect foundation for numerous wind energy turbines. The local economy relies heavily on a need for wind energy and many jobs are created whenever the demand for such a source increases. Additionally, according to Iowa Code 476C, wind energy users receive a tax credit of 1.5 cents per kilowatt hour.
And, while Iowa is typically considered to be a conservative state, many residents have voiced frustration with Republican nominee Mitt Romney as a result of his current stance against the extension of federal wind energy incentives. If he is elected, the wind energy industry and related jobs could be in serious trouble.
Rob Hatch, owner of an Iowa-based wind energy provider and staunch Republican, told the Associated Press last week that wind energy is “critical for the economy” and said that he plans on voting for Obama if Romney won’t join other members of his party in embracing wind energy and providing incentives for progressive-thinking businesses who wish to do the same.
“Right now, the midwest is experiencing an intense drought, and the wind turbines are producing revenue for the farmers, while the crops are not,” said Hatch, who stressed the importance of keeping farmers in the state. “Iowa is known for brain drain, when talented farm kids leave the state, but wind turbines could help bring them back.”
But all hope may not be lost. Romney could endure a significant amount of pressure from other Republicans who are definitely in favor of wind, among other sources of renewable energy. Iowa Senator Charles Grassley, South Dakota Senator John Thune and Iowa Representative Tom Latham all support tax credits for those using wind power systems. In fact, according to the U.S. Wind Industry Annual Market Report, 81 percent of wind capacity installed in the US comes from districts represented by Republicans.
Other issues aside, how do you feel about the future of wind energy in the US? Will your vote be influenced by the clashing candidate sentiments regarding wind energy?