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PUC encourages South Dakotans to sign wind energy petition

South Dakotans interested in federal support of wind energy development are encouraged to sign an online petition hosted at the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission's Web site:

A federal Production Tax Credit is in place to attract new wind energy development projects. The PTC was recently reenacted, but only until Dec. 31, 2005. Supporters of wind development have asked Congress to further extend the tax credit or make it permanent. However, Congress has not acted on these requests and this uncertainty has put a damper on wind power development across the country.

Despite this, the wind industry will likely break records in 2005 with 2,500 MW of wind facilities projected for construction. However, the PUC would like to see more of these projects taking shape within the state's borders.

"The planning and permitting process for these facilities typically takes two or more years to complete," said PUC Chairman Gary Hanson. "The time period for a tax credit needs to be longer than a one or two year period in order to successfully lure such projects."

"Many renewable energy developers hesitate to begin planning a project given the short timeframe the credit is currently valid for," PUC Vice Chair Bob Sahr stated. "Therefore, we need to gather support in order to try to extend this time period."

Commissioner Dusty Johnson said, "The benefit of wind energy development is that it provides clean renewable electricity. We want more of these wind projects developed in South Dakota for our state's and our nation's benefit