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"You can't expect to take away support for wind energy while you're also protecting all of the various subsidies that flow to fossil fuel energy," said Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democrat from Rhode Island.
WASHINGTON - Historic subsidies propping up U.S. wind energy ended Jan. 1 and Congress refused to renew them, despite supporters arguing that the aid has made renewable power cheaper than coal.
The United States has subsidized wind-sourced electricity since 1992 to promote the use of green energy and crack America's dependence on the fossil fuels blamed for climate change.
Last year, billions of dollars in wind production tax credits, or PTCs, amounted to some 2.3 cents per kilowatt hour for an industry that has struggled to compete against oil and gas.
But winds of change are blowing. The repeatedly renewed credits expired at the end of 2013, along with many other renewable energy benefits.
Wind energy is now an industry that can "stand on its own," argued Sen. Lamar Alexander and other anti-tax-credit lawmakers last month.
"Our nation's energy policy must make economic sense for taxpayers and not manipulate markets," he and Sen. Joe Manchin of coal-producing West Virginia wrote in a position letter.
"After more than 20 years and tens of billions of tax-payer dollars, it's time to let the wind PTC expire and continue to invest in new technologies."
Wind power has experienced a recent boom, growing from 1.3% of the nation's electricity production in 2008 to 3.5% in 2012.
This leaves it still far behind coal at 37%, natural gas at 30% and nuclear power at 19%.