The Production Tax Credit (PTC) “is an inflation-adjusted per-kilowatt-hour (kWh) tax credit for electricity generated by qualified energy resources and sold by the taxpayer to an unrelated person during the taxable year.” Originally conceived and passed into law as a short-term measure in 1992 in order to grow the nascent American wind energy industry by promoting the “development and utilization of certain renewable energy sources,” the PTC has become a permanent corporate welfare fixture. Originally scheduled to expire in 1999, the measure has been extended 10 times since then.
Since 2004, the PTC has cost taxpayers a staggering $22.2 billion, including an estimated $9.3 billion the last two years alone. Through 2029, the PTC is projected to cost taxpayers another $42.8 billion.
The PTC has long since surpassed any legitimate purpose: since 1999 the amount of installed wind capacity in the United States has increased from 2,472 MW to 84,946 MW, more than a thirtyfold increase. The wind energy industry today needs neither protection nor support—the primary purpose of the PTC being to enrich multibillion corporations—six businesses have had eligibility for $1 billion in credits or more since 2016. While never a proper use of government funds, in 2018 the wind PTC today is completely unjustifiable. Congress should end the subsidy and instead allow the wind energy industry compete fairly and freely on the open market—if they can.