Bennet, Klobuchar Introduce Legislation to Promote Use of Wind Energy

Denver – U.S. Senators Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) introduced legislation to modernize and extend the small wind investment tax credit (ITC) to help farmers, ranchers, and small businesses offset the up-front costs of developing and owning small wind turbines that generate electricity. Companion legislation was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by U.S. Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.).

While small wind turbines allow farmers, ranchers, and other consumers to cut their energy bills and, at times, sell power back into the grid, existing law limits eligibility to projects with a single turbine at or below a 100-kilowatt limit. These limits prevent farmers, ranchers, small businesses, and others from utilizing distributed wind models that provide for alternative deployment models such as subscription-based or shared-ownership programs.

The Rural Wind Energy Modernization and Extension Act would update and expand the small wind ITC by:

  • Striking the existing 100-kilowatt nameplate limitation for small wind systems and expanding the maximum wind turbine size to 10 megawatts; 
  • Changing the definition of small wind to “distributed wind energy property” to ensure that innovative small wind models qualify for the credit; and
  • Extending the ITC to cover 30 percent of a project’s cost until 2028, before phasing-down to a permanent 10 percent, which will ensure that distributed wind technology achieves equity with other renewable energy investment tax credits and is given time to grow and deploy across rural America.

“Colorado is leading the nation's shift to a clean energy economy, with cutting-edge developments in renewable energy technologies like small wind turbines,” said Bennet. “The Rural Wind Energy Modernization and Extension Act will drive greater investment in our state and make these turbines more affordable and accessible for rural communities and energy consumers alike. This bill will provide better federal support for innovators in our energy economy and fuel economic growth in rural communities.”

“As small wind technology has grown over the past decade, federal renewable energy tax policy has failed to keep up with its expansion and is stifling further innovation,” said Klobuchar. “This legislation will provide stability and certainty for the small, distributed wind market while helping Americans take advantage of clean, renewable, and affordable power.”

“The Ag Energy Coalition strongly supports the Rural Wind Energy Modernization and Extension Act and applauds Senator Klobuchar, Rep. Blumenauer and Senator Bennet for introducing it. After the economic impacts of the past year, rural communities need federal leadership to rebuild a cleaner, more sustainable economy. Modernizing existing distributed wind tax policy to target small businesses, farmers and citizens in rural areas makes sense,” said Lloyd Ritter, Ag Energy Coalition Policy Director.

“Modernizing the Investment Tax Credit for distributed wind power will help rural communities play a major role in America's clean energy transformation. The Distributed Wind Energy Association thanks Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Sen. Michael Bennet, and Rep. Earl Blumenauer for supporting small businesses, farmers and citizens in rural communities who create jobs and economic growth opportunities through renewable energy,” said Mike Bergey, Distributed Wind Energy Association Board President.

Bennet has long supported Colorado’s leadership in renewable energy. Last June, Bennet joined a bicameral group of his colleagues in a letter urging congressional leaders to prioritize a clean energy recovery plan and calling for an extension of and increased flexibility for renewable tax incentives. In 2015, Bennet secured five-year extensions of the wind production tax credit and solar ITC to provide certainty for renewable energy manufacturers and producers in Colorado and around the country.

The bill text is available HERE