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Capitol reporter Katie Meyer covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.
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Advocates push for wind incentive extension as debate fizzles in Harrisburg

Written by Mary Wilson, Former Capitol Bureau Chief | Dec 2, 2013 6:48 PM

Photo by Scott Detrow / StateImpact Pennsylvania

Environmentalists are urging for greater investment in wind energy at the state and federal level. Two federal tax incentives for wind power production are set to expire at the end of the year.

Advocates say the production tax credit and the investment tax credit are among the top reasons for the growth of the wind energy industry in Pennsylvania over the past several years. They say the investment is prudent because wind energy is renewable and has a smaller environmental impact, using less water and emitting less pollution. But the incentives are the subject of an ongoing debate in Washington, as some members of Congress say the industry should be weaned off federal tax breaks that are being used as a crutch in the absence of demand for wind energy.

Closer to home, Penn Environment Research and Policy Center is highlighting the state's own laws as another big reason for expanded wind energy production.

"There have been a number of proposals to cut back on support for clean energy programs, and we're excited that new legislation has been introduced to strengthen these programs," said associate Elowyn Corby. "But they're very much at risk now."

Democratic state lawmakers have proposed to make electricity companies sell a larger share of energy from renewable sources, like wind and solar power. Those initiatives are still sitting in committee.

A recent PennEnvironment report finds Pennsylvania is ranked 17 in the country for wind energy production, despite having hilly terrain and little of the coastal access that marks top wind producers.

"But, thanks to recent developments in wind technology, we've actually seen a dramatic growth in wind here in Pennsylvania and we expect to see that growth continue," said Corby. Texas, Iowa, and California are the top three states for wind power production in the country.

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