Franken-Tester Bill Would Support Community Wind Development

Late last week U.S. Senators Al Franken (D-Minn.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.) introduced legislation that would promote community wind projects across the country via a successful tax credit already on the books for small wind.

The “Community Wind Act” would expand the existing small wind Investment Tax Credit to projects with capacity up to 20 MW. Currently, a 30 percent investment tax credit is available for wind turbines with nameplate capacities of up to 100 kW. Under the new legislation introduced, there is no restriction on the size of any individual turbine.

Community wind projects, which involve a financial interest on the part of members of the local community, are viewed as an additional way for wind power’s many benefits to be tapped by localities. Such projects are typically smaller than many more traditional wind projects. Not surprisingly, one challenge of community wind development is access to capital, and the ITC is intended to help address that.

“Locally owned wind projects are an important part of our nation’s energy future and they’re a great investment for rural communities in Minnesota because their profits go right back to farmers and members of rural communities,” said Franken. “Unfortunately, these projects often have difficulty getting financing. This legislation would make it easier for community wind projects to get up and running and help communities all over Minnesota and all over the country invest in the future.”

“Montana possesses immense potential for wind energy development,” said Tester. “Initiatives like this put rural communities on a level playing field when developing their own energy sources to create jobs and grow local economies. This bill is an important step forward for gaining energy independence, and I hope the Senate passes this common-sense bill as soon as possible.”

Carl Levesque is the Communications Editor at AWEA. This article first appeared in the AWEA Windletter and was reprinted with permission from the American Wind Energy Association.

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Carl is Editor & Publications Manager at the American Wind Energy Association, where has worked since 2006. At AWEA he oversees AWEA's online and print publications including the Wind Energy Weekly, Windpower Update, and other products. He has worked as a journalist in the energy industry as a staff writer for Public Utilities Fortnightly magazine and in the association sector as senior editor at Association Management magazine. He also has covered the home-building industry, where his areas of greatest interest were sustainable development and "smart growth," and has written articles for numerous other publications as a freelance writer. Carl received his B.A. from James Madison University and spent some time in New Orleans teaching as well as working with homeless youth.

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