Tony Raimondo Jr. interviewed about wind energy potential

Tony Raimondo Jr. of Behlen Manufacturing, Distefano Technology & Manufacturing’s parent company, was interviewed by the Omaha World-Herald at the end of August regarding wind energy. Behlen currently employs 10 workers who produce wind turbines in Columbus and in Omaha’s Distefano plant.

Raimondo Jr. told the World-Herald that the nation needs to transition away from fossil fuels and that new technologies need subsidies. He said, “Wind energy needs to stand on its own eventually, but that doesn’t happen over night.”

The article outlined the importance that wind energy will play for Iowans choosing a presidential candidate. Presidential candidate Mitt Romney and other critics of the tax credit have said that wind energy should compete on its own without subsidies, according to the article.

Tax credits for wind energy have not been as helpful in promoting wind energy in Nebraska because the tax credits were not directly obtained by public utilities. Laws to allow Nebraska to benefit from the credits have only been enacted in recent years. Though, the World-Herald points out, that the state has the fourth-best wind power potential in the U.S. and is already behind other states that didn’t have the delay.

Nearly 3,000 wind turbines blanket the western and northwestern part of Iowa, providing power for more than a million homes. The article also points to the fact that wind-related manufacturing has transformed vacant factories in Iowa into producers of turbines, blades and towers. According to the article, farmers make $14 million a year by leasing to wind farms on their land and wind energy is bringing economic development to areas that haven’t seen it in decades.

The federal production tax credit has been a key driver to the growth of wind power in Iowa and other states that are leading wind energy production. Currently, wind farms also earn a federal income tax credit for 10 years, which makes wind energy more competitive with more established  energy sources such as power generated by coal and nuclear energy.

Supporters of renewing the production tax credit for wind energy point out that there are longstanding and more expensive federal subsidies for oil and natural gas.

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