Green Energy Faces Stiff GOP Headwinds on Hill

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), December 6, 2010 | Go to article overview

Green Energy Faces Stiff GOP Headwinds on Hill


Byline: Joseph Weber, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The Obama administration lavished billions of stimulus dollars on wind-power producers and other renewable-energy interests, but the whirl of the turbines may slow dramatically as budget-cutting Republicans take their seats in the next Congress.

The climate - at least on Capitol Hill - has changed dramatically for the wind-power industry, which is dealing with President Obama's stalled green-energy agenda as well as the loss of old friends in Washington and the nation's statehouses and the rise to power of ?tea party"-backed Republicans who are skeptical of government supports for the industry.

The incoming Republican majority in the House of Representatives will almost certainly present obstacles toward the wind industry's agenda on Capitol Hill, the trade publication North American Windpower recently reported, including an end to direct cash grants from Mr. Obama's stimulus package and more delays in formulating the long-awaited federal standard for the use of renewable-energy sources by the nation's utilities.

The Republican ascendancy likely will curtail the Obama administration's financial support for wind farms and other renewable-energy interests, which have received more than $7 billion in stimulus money since 2009.

The midterm elections dealt a shellacking to Mr. Obama's agenda and changed the political and lobbying calculus for industries and corporate interests across the landscape.

In one sign of the times for wind-energy boosters, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, Montana Democrat, announced late last week that he will push immediately to extend two programs for direct federal subsidies and manufacturing tax credits for solar, wind and other renewable energy industries before the lame-duck session of Congress adjourns at the end of the month.

Mr. Obama's stimulus plan offered grants of up to 30 percent of construction costs to developers of wind farms, solar plants and other types of projects, an alternative to the traditional renewable-energy tax credit that has lost its attractiveness in the struggling economy.

Though many Republicans have supported renewable energy and the tax credits, they are mindful of the recent voter backlash about excessive government spending and the growing federal deficit. Key GOP lawmakers have expressed skepticism about Mr. Obama's stimulus program in general and its green jobs component in particular.

The government is running out of money, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, said last week. Constituents asked for job growth .. not for help to special-interest groups

The election turnover means that wind-energy champions on Capitol Hill, such as retiring Sen. …

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