United States

United States

US election - a big day for wind energy

UNITED STATES: When Americans vote in today's $6 billion general election, the stakes will be high for wind energy in the US and beyond.

President Barack Obama, tied in the race with Republican opponent Mitt Romney, has repeatedly asked Congress to extend the wind production tax credit (PTC) beyond year-end.

Obama has arguably been the most wind-friendly president, often appearing for photo ops at wind supply-chain factories. His $10 billion federal loan guarantee programme was for renewables—including wind projects—energy efficiency, transmission and distribution.

The president has backed away from advocating carbon cap and trade, but has said if he is elected for a second and final term, it will again become a major plank of his policy.

Obama backed a clean energy standard and would be expected to revisit the issue, say analysts, although his standard may define nuclear energy as clean.

In contrast, Romney opposed the proposed Cape Wind offshore project when Massachusetts governor, saying it would decrease property values and dent tourism.

In his energy white paper, Romney emphasised fossil fuels and scarcely mentioned renewables, although on the campaign trail he defensively said he is not anti-wind.

Indeed, there are signs Romney may be wobbling on his anti- PTC stand.  

Recently, he said he would back a phase-out of renewables and nuclear "subsidies" in a speech in Iowa, a hotspot of wind development.

Yet voters are expected to elect a divided  Congress again – which may not be good for wind energy.  It is Congress that decides whether to extend the PTC, a measure that has some bipartisan support, although a president’s views are influential.  

In the states, Michigan’s groundbreaking-breaking Proposition 3, to enshrine a renewables mandate for utilities in the constitution, is the most-watched campaign for wind energy. It seems headed for defeat.

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