Durbin legislation to make wind energy affordable

Durbin legislation to make wind energy affordable


Senator says Federal Tax Credit would make wind energy more viable for homeowners, farmers, small business owners in rural Illinois

WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) today introduced legislation that would provide a 30 percent federal tax credit to homeowners, farmers and small business owners who choose to install small wind energy systems on their property.

“Tapping wind, a limitless source of energy, has clear benefits across the board,” Durbin said. Individuals can generate their own electricity, cut their energy bills and help to protect the environment. Farmers and ranchers can utilize a small wind energy system to generate electricity for their property without disruption to their land for crop growing and grazing. The only remaining barrier is the cost of installation, and this legislation goes directly to the heart of that issue.”

Wind energy has long been used in Illinois for energy generation, and the state ranks 16th in terms of wind energy potential. The 30 percent tax credit proposed in the legislation introduced today—the Small Wind Energy Systems Act—would apply to installation of small wind energy systems up to 75kW, effective through 2009.

The tax credit would apply to installation costs for the windmill systems, which generate electricity for individual homes or other stand-alone buildings. Windmills used for rural residential use are mounted on towers 60 to 80 feet tall, and can produce up to 13,000 kW of electricity each year, enough to save at least $1,000 annually on energy costs. However, installation of a typical rural wind energy system costs nearly $35,000, making them prohibitively expensive for most farmers and homeowners. The increased demand for wind energy systems resulting from the proposed tax credit could also help bring the cost down so that more people could afford them.

“Any national energy policy must include innovative proposals for exploring and developing the use of alternative and renewable energy sources,” Durbin said. “This tax credit would make investing in wind energy systems economical for rural electric customers in Illinois and across the county, reducing the strain on our existing electrical systems and enhancing our energy security and independence.”

Because carbon dioxide is the most significant contributor to climate change, Durbin also noted the environmental benefits of this bill. A typical small wind system can offset seven tons of carbon dioxide per year. Tapping into wind as an energy source also does not involve the energy-intensive excavation or transportation that the use of many fossil fuels requires.

Durbin is joined by senators Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) in introducing this legislation. Also, Conrad recently filed a similar provision as an amendment to the Energy Tax Incentives Act of 2003.

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