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Tax pressures may hit Montana's wind industry

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By Deb Courson Smith Big Sky Connection

HELENA – Tax time details are the focus for many Montanans this week, and there’s another issue related to taxes that may get attention in D.C. soon. The wind power production tax credit is set to expire at the end of the year, and several Senators from both parties are pushing to get a vote as soon as possible.

Montanan Gordon Brittan says timing is critical. He installed the first wind turbine ever in Montana and is helping energy companies with wind development. He credits the tax relief for the industry’s success.

“Congressman Denny Rehberg told me the other day, he said, ‘We just can’t walk off a cliff.’ And that’s what we’d be doing if we ended the production tax credit from one day to the next.”

Brittan says wind is connected to several hundred jobs in Montana and up to 75,000 nationwide. The credit also benefits other renewable industries, and although Brittan says it has strong support, there are calls to let it expire.

Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley introduced legislation to extend the credit for two more years, and he’s pushing this month to get it on the voting list. He says there is strong bi-partisan support, but getting it on the calendar is a challenge.

“And I hope we can get it passed pretty soon, because I think in a month or two, you’re going to start seeing some layoffs, because nobody is going to build for inventory. If we don’t have the tax credit, we may not have a whole lot of turbines put up.”

The American Energy and Jobs Promotion Act is S. 2201.

Megan Paulson is the Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer of Outlaw Partners.

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