Report: Broadening Wind Energy Ownership by Changing Federal Incentives

Date: 5 Apr 2008 | posted in: Energy | 2 Facebooktwitterredditmail

A typical 2 megawatt wind turbine provides enough electricity for around 600 average American homes.  So why is it nearly impossible for those same 600 households to pool their resources and own a wind turbine?

There are two significant barriers to owning and investing in renewable energy projects.  First, the federal renewable electricity incentive — the production tax credit (PTC) — limits the type and amount of income tax that can be applied.  Second, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has complicated and expensive registration fees for sizable cooperative investments.  If lawmakers want Americans to achieve energy independence, they need to revise the PTC and simplify SEC registration.

This policy brief shows how removing two barriers to owning and investing in renewable energy projects can pave the way for true energy independence.

A 2008 bill by Representative Tim Walz (D-MN), H.R. 2691, addresses part of the tax problem by making the federal tax incentive for wind power available to up to a third of all Americans.

“Removing this barrier to energy ownership makes smaller projects more accessible to the local community, and draws local investors back into the process,” says Farrell. “Plus, ownership brings more economic benefits to a community than an absentee firm putting up a turbine.”

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John Farrell

John Farrell directs the Energy Democracy initiative at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and he develops tools that allow communities to take charge of their energy future, and pursue the maximum economic benefits of the transition to 100% renewable power.