Wind power: Montana county commissioners call for PTC extension

The three commissioners of Wheatland County, Montana, had a letter in the Billings (Mont.) Gazette Sunday expressing their support for the federal wind energy Production Tax Credit (PTC) and calling on the state’s Congressional representatives, U.S. Sens. Max Baucus (D) and Jon Tester (D) and U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg (R) to seek its extension beyond its scheduled expiration at the end of this year.

Tom Bennett, chair of the county board of commissioners, was joined in signing the letter by colleagues David Miller and Richard Moe. The three commented in part:

"The wind farm plants in our county have created high-quality jobs that brought responsible people to our community. These people participate in the community and bring children to our schools. There were ten permanent jobs created with the potential for more. In addition, property taxes paid from wind farms have improved our county’s financial position, allowing our county to improve our infrastructure."

With the help of the additional taxes from the Judith Gap Wind Farm, Wheatland County has benefited greatly. We have a new county shop and fire hall, a great tax base as well as a grant program that benefits nonprofit organizations in our county.

The commissioners said they support extension of the PTC to ensure that "progress continues and … Montana meets its full potential."

A House bill seeking to extend the PTC has 85 cosponsors, including 18 Republicans, and has received the endorsement of a broad coalition of more than 370 members, including the National Association of Manufacturers, the American Farm Bureau Federation, the Edison Electric Institute, and the Western Governors’ Association, while a Senate bill to extend it was introduced March 15 by seven Senators, including three Republicans. A PTC extension also has the support of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the bipartisan Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition, which includes 23 Republican and Democratic Governors from across the U.S.

Tom Gray,