Wind Energy Backers Want Tax Breaks

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The campaign for more development of wind energy in Ohio was in Columbus. Backers of renewal energy sources went to COSI TO explain why it is critical for Ohio lawmakers to pass tax break legislation for developers.

On a sunny day with light winds, representatives of wind manufacturers and Governor Ted Strickland’s energy adviser stood in front of a giant wind turbine blade to make their case. They say Ohio can be a leader in wind energy if it moves now. Brad Lystra is manager of Economic Development Partnerships with American Wind Energy Association.

“To not be able to put boots on the ground and get these construction projects up and running and to fix the tax problem that we’re facing at the moment, is a disservice to the construction workers and the manufacturers who are trying to build these projects in the Midwest and the state of Ohio,”Lystra said.

Lystra says Ohio taxes on energy companies are $40,000 per megawatt or up to 10 times higher than other Midwestern States. “Ohio without meeting this tax issue, Ohio is in a position to lose jobs. Now the question is are they going to lose all the projects or some of the projects, I don’t have that answer for sure and I can’t speak on behalf of the developers,” Lystra said.

Wind energy supporters say seven wind developments are pending in Ohio that could create 1,000 immediate construction and operations jobs. Governor Strickland’s energy adviser, Mark Shanahan says the state is already benefiting from wind energy.

“Almost 100 companies, manufacturing operations in Ohio are already making component parts for the wind industry. Thousands of people are working in those jobs and they’re using the skills set and the resources we have to do that,”said Shanahan. Shanahan adds though to move on new projects with federal stimulus money, the wind industry needs 6 to 10 months to make decisions about investments. Right now companies don’t want to move until they know how much they’ll pay in taxes. Dayton resident, Laura Bohman stopped by to see the turbine blade at COSI . She’s eager to see wind energy utilized.

“I think it’s a good idea because it’s there and it doesn’t cost anything for it to be there. It’s just there and it’s a free source and it should be used, Bohman said.

Currently, wind energy supplies about 2% of the country’s electricity with enough power for over 10 million homes. The wind industry also supports about 85,000 jobs across the country.