Oil, Wind, Solar: So Much Energy, So Many Tax Breaks But For How Long?

The energy industry is fighting over billions of dollars in tax breaks. Is the end near?

By Dave FehlingAugust 15, 2016 9:30 am| , ,

From Houston Public Media

You could think of it as a sport.

“If this were an Olympic sport, oil companies would be getting the gold medal in securing tax breaks. But wind energy and solar energy aren’t even in the arena,” says Danielle Baussan with the Center for American Progress in Washington, a group that’s pro-alternative energy.

Congress has voted to end tax credits three years from now for the relatively new wind industry. In Texas, there are similar proposals to end state tax breaks as well.

So, it would make sense to start phasing out tax breaks for the oil industry according to Center for American Progress, tax breaks that Baussan says were put in place a century ago when oil was in its infancy.

“There’s sometimes a misperception we’re talking about mom and pops, people (with oil wells) on ranch land and that these tax breaks were meant to prevent someone from losing their life savings from oil speculating,” Baussan said.

Instead, she says the breaks today mostly benefit the big oil companies.

Not so says Big Oil.

“The oil and natural gas industry gets no subsidies, contrary to other people’s views we get no subsidies. We get treated like everybody else, “says Jack Gerard with the American Petroleum Institute.

Gerard appeared earlier this year on the Wall Street Journal’s Opinion Journal show, arguing that the oil industry gets tax deductions that are similar if not the same as those given other industries.

But it gets more complicated.

Under new proposals for a “Clean Energy Incentive” program, federal tax credits could be sold by wind producers to power producers that burn coal or gas. Some Republicans in Congress are arguing against the tax credit sales, saying they would give wind an unfair advantage.