Democratic Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado made the case for Idaho’s wind industry like no political leader here has done.
Udall said Tuesday, in a speech on the Senate Floor, Idaho’s wind industry already creates 500 jobs, $2 million in lease payments and another $2.5 million in property taxes. Actually that money comes from a 3 percent generation tax instead of property taxes.
The 20 wind plants on line or under construction produce enough power to light 160,000 homes, Udall said. Already wind produces 8.2 percent of Idaho’s electric power.
But Udall, who is pushing for the extension of the federal production tax credit, which ends Dec. 31, said the Department of Energy estimates that wind could meet 218 percent of the state’s electricity needs. Idaho is 23rd in wind resource potential among states, DOE said.
“Idaho is a state with a vast untapped potential for wind energy,” Udall said.
The Idaho Public Utilities Commission will hold a hearing next week on how to price renewable energy projects for the state's utilities that will have more impact on wind's future here than the production tax credit.