Locally owned wind farms could get a boost under new legislation introduced in the U.S. Senate. The Community Wind Act would extend existing investment tax credits to small wind farms with total capacities of up to 20 megawatts (MW). The act was introduced by Sens. Al Franken (D-Minn.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and has the support of more than 40 energy groups.
Right now, wind turbines with capacities of up to 100 kilowatts (kW) are eligible for a 30 percent investment tax credit. The new legislation would amend the current credit and allow projects with total wind capacity of no more than 20 MW to also take advantage of the 30 percent tax credit. There would be no restriction on the size of any one turbine.
The legislation is meant to help small community wind projects in rural areas of the country that currently have trouble getting financing for wind projects. Franken said in a statement that the legislation would particularly help farmers and people in rural communities because the profits from the wind farms go right back into their own pockets.
According to a 2009 National Renewable Energy Lab study, wind community projects have higher local economic impact than conventional wind projects, making them a powerful economic development tool for farmers and communities. The bill has been endorsed by a diverse group of stakeholders across the country, including the National Farmers Union, the Environmental Law and Policy Center and the American Wind Energy Association.