Small Wind Remains in Farm Bill

Renewable energy advocates are clearly disappointed with the recently passed version of the 2007 energy bill. Yes, there is an important increase in auto fuel efficiency, but considering that CAFE hasn't been upped in nearly 30 years, I don't think Congress should be patting themselves on the back too hard for that one. However, a little piece of renewable energy legislation may have sneaked into the farm bill without too many Republicans noticing, and it just might have a chance of getting passed into law.

The version of the farm bill passed by the Senate on Friday contains a small wind tax provision - the first in more than 20 years. The provision is a 30% investment tax credit (up to $4,000) for the installation of small wind systems. The credit is available for farmers, small businesses and homeowners for new wind systems up to 10 kw. This may be another piece of evidence of a farm bill in energy bill's clothing.

The tax-credit has remained a part of the farm bill despite an attempt to scuttle it. Sen. Ken Salazar (D-CO) and others defeated an amendment sponsored by Lamar Alexander (R-TN) that would have limited the small wind investment tax credit to farmers and small businesses, thus excluding owners of rural residential property and commercial property suitable for small wind from taking advantage of what has traditionally been viewed as a burden. It comes as no surprise to see Sen. Alexander championing the anti-wind cause once again. The Senator from Tennessee has been surprisingly outspoken about wind energy policy in the U.S., even going as far as suggesting that it ruins mountaintops (to say nothing of the practice of 'mountaintop removal' in TN and other coal-heavy states). It is also interesting to note that Alexander owns property on Nantucket Island in MA, not far at all from the proposed Cape Wind project. Coincidence?! I think not.

I suppose I shouldn't be trumpeting this small victory too loudly, President Bush hasn't signed the bill into law yet, so I suppose there is also a chance that the small tax credit will get axed from the bill just like all of the other renewable energy legislation.

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