Recent Press Releases

Thune Introduces Legislation to Boost Wind Energy

Senator Says SD could be Leading Wind Producer

May 3, 2007

Washington, D.C. —  Senator John Thune (R-SD) today introduced legislation that would provide a significant boost to the nation's capacity to develop wind energy, a renewable energy source that has the potential to help the U.S. become more energy independent.

The Wind Energy Development Act of 2007 would extend the current Renewable Energy Production Tax Credit (PTC), which is set to expire in 2008, through 2012. The PTC is an important incentive because it provides a 2 cent-per-kWh tax credit for renewable electricity production, which makes wind energy more competitive with other forms of energy production such as coal, hydro, and natural gas.

In the past, Congress has allowed the PTC to expire numerous times, only extending the credit for one or two years at a time. These inconsistencies led to a "boom-and-bust" cycle in wind energy development. Extending the PTC through 2012 would give the wind industry a consistent and reliable economic incentive and encourage manufacturers to invest in and expand facilities in the U.S.

In addition, under this legislation, the amount of Clean Renewable Energy Bonds would increase to $2.25 billion. Rather than a traditional interest-bearing bond, these bonds would provide tax credits in lieu of interest to the bond holder. In addition to expanding the amount of bonds that are available for expanded clean energy projects, a portion of the bond funding would be set aside for public power entities, Indian tribes, and cooperative electric companies.

"As our nation's energy demands continue to grow at record speed, our dangerous dependence on foreign sources of energy puts America in a more vulnerable position than ever," Thune said. "To avoid a looming energy crisis, we need to explore every possible source of renewable, home-harnessed energy, such as wind power-an under-utilized resource that has the potential to provide cost-effective energy to millions of Americans.

"States like South Dakota have the wind resources to meet a considerable share of our nation's electrical demand, but until now, have lacked the necessary infrastructure. The Wind Energy Development Act would make a significant commitment to the development of wind energy through tax credits and economic incentives that will encourage the construction and expansion of wind farms in South Dakota and across the country.

"South Dakota could and should be a national leader in producing electricity harnessed through our abundant wind supply."

Michael C. Robinson, Deputy Director of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colorado, has said South Dakota is capable of producing 566 GW of electrical power from wind, which is the equivalent of 52% of the nation's electricity demand. NREL's estimates indicate that the wind energy potential in South Dakota is twice as large as Montana, Minnesota, Wyoming, and North Dakota.

While South Dakota has the wind resources to meet a large share of the nation's electrical demand, South Dakota's wind energy development is currently lagging behind neighboring states. South Dakota produces 44 MW of wind energy. Minnesota and Iowa produce 895 MW and 936 MW, respectively.

Each 1,000 MW of wind energy results in:
  • $1.6 billion in capital investment

  • $2.6 million per year in lease payments to rural landowners

  • 1700 new construction jobs

  • 18 billion cubic feet of natural gas or 1.2 million short tons of coal saved annually

  • Electricity supplied to over 250,000 homes (Source: U.S. Department of Energy)