Senate Approves Wind Energy Spending Measure

Date: April 27, 2016 Last Edit: April 28, 2016

Multi-million Dollar Subsidy To Contribute To Wind Energy Research, Restore Windmill Funding

On Tuesday the Senate voted 54-42 to approve an energy spending bill with $95 million in funds for wind energy, including the restoration of $15.4 million in funds for windmills. The Washington Times calls the vote a “signal that Congress is still eager to pick winners in the emerging renewable energy sector,” pointing out that a “sizable number of Republicans,” along with most Democrats, supported the “subsidy for research on wind energy which, while small in terms of dollars, is considered a major symbolic test of Congress’s commitment to having alternative energy sources be part of the mix.” Leading the push to restore the windmill funding was Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), who said, “This is an evolving industry with great potential to assist us with clean energy, and moreover a program that can affect the economy of rural America.” Along with other supporters of wind energy, Merkley argued that “turbines account for 5 percent of U.S. energy production, and that could rise to 35 percent by the middle of the century, if the government helps keep the industry afloat and expanding.” On the counter side, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) pointed out that “federal taxpayers have poured $23 billion into subsidies for wind over the last few decades, and wind still has yet to prove it can be a major player.” The Republicans in support of the bill were from Midwestern and mountain region states, the Times says, areas where wind energy is typically more active. Illustrating this point, McClatchy reports that Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) argued, “Wind energy deserves fair treatment among government support for different energy sources. This amendment gives wind energy the attention it deserves.” Currently, Iowa receives “28.5 percent of its power from wind, the highest percentage” of any state, the article notes.

What This Means For Small Businesses

Small businesses involved in the wind energy sector might potentially benefit from additional funding for the industry. However, Congress should steer clera of picking winners and losers when it comes to America’s energy industry, which creates an abundance of jobs, including many at small businesses involved in producing and distributing many different types of energy.

Additional Reading

The Hill also covers the latest wind energy funding.

Note: this article is intended to keep small business owners up on the latest news. It does not necessarily represent the policy stances of NFIB.

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