Nebraska Gov. Heineman Criticizes Wind Power Preferences

Published April 4, 2013

Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman criticized the state legislature’s Revenue Committee for advancing a bill to give special tax incentives to wind power companies and other expensive renewable power providers.

Broad Tax Relief Preferred
Heineman, a Republican, says the legislature should provide broad tax reductions for all Nebraskans rather than use the tax code to pick winners and losers among competing power providers.

“It is very disappointing that the Legislature’s Revenue Committee has decided to provide out-of-state wind energy developers a tax break, but the Revenue Committee refuses to provide much-needed tax relief to Nebraska families, Nebraska seniors, Nebraska veterans, and Nebraska small business owners,” said Heineman in a press statement.

“The Revenue Committee’s priorities are misguided. Instead of carving out an exemption for out-of-state special interests, the Legislature should be working to lower the taxes of Nebraskan citizens who continue to bear the burden for special interest tax breaks,” Heineman added.

Naming the Committee Members
Heineman made a point to list by name the senators who voted for and against the wind power special interest tax break. Sens. Galen Hadley of Kearney, Burke Harr of Omaha, Pete Pirsch of Omaha, Paul Schumacher of Columbus, and Kate Sullivan of Cedar Rapids voted for the tax breaks.

Heineman commended Tom Hansen of North Platte, Charlie Janssen of Fremont, and Beau McCoy of Omaha for voting against the wind power tax breaks.

A Few Jobs at What Cost?
Hadley, who chairs the Revenue Committee, argued wind power projects may not be feasible in Nebraska without the special tax breaks. 

Trade Wind Energy stands to benefit from the tax credits. The company plans to build 118 turbines in Dixon County, creating a total of 10 to 16 permanent jobs. Bruce Barton, Trade Wind’s development manager, warned the wind turbines may not be built without the tax credits.

“Energy economists have repeatedly documented that preferential treatment for wind power and other expensive renewable power punishes the economy and kills more jobs than it creates,” said Jay Lehr, science director for The Heartland Institute, which publishes Environment & Climate News. “This stands to reason because renewable power is so much more expensive than conventional power. When you force people to purchase electricity at higher prices, it has all the economy-killing effects of an unnecessary tax on electricity.

“You never see coal and natural gas producers going to state legislatures and presenting ultimatums that they will leave the state if they are not given subsidies, preferential tax treatment, or market share mandates,” Lehr added. “Renewable power providers do this on a regular basis.”

Karen Dove ([email protected]) is a freelance writer in Bradenton, Florida.