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State legislature a key to future of wind power

The only thing preventing the wind power industry from soaring is the lack of state incentives.

That's the view of businesses specializing in wind energy.

"If consumers could get tax credit or a rebate for wind power, we could sell two or three systems a week," said Dan Mattfeld, manager of Residential Wind Power Inc., New York Mills. "They would be selling like hot cakes."

Presently, Minnesota provides a sales tax exemption for wind and solar power installations. But only solar qualifies for a tax credit incentive.

Maine and New Jersey, for example, are far ahead of Minnesota in incentives for wind power, noted Mattfeld.

If Minnesota had a program similar to Maine's, a small homeowner unit generating 2 kilowatts of hour with a retail price of $10,500 could be purchased for the equivalent of about $6,500.

"Ninety-eight percent of the people who we talk to ask specifically about incentives," said Mattfeld. "A rebate or tax credit program would have a tremendous impact, especially if it was as large as the solar program."

Mattfeld has helped draft legislation that would create a wind power incentive program in the state.

The bill has garnered support from State Sen. Dan Skogen, DFL-Wadena. "He's all for it," said Mattfeld. "He wants to see this happen as much as we do."

Wind power proponents are gearing up for the 2009 legislative session, and will be presenting proposals to sub-committees and committees in St. Paul.

For Mattfeld and Bill Boedigheimer, who owns Residential Wind Power, they would like to see a bill that would provide at least $2,500 for anyone who installs a wind power generation system.

"With an incentive program, we would go from a two person to a six person operation--overnight," said Mattfeld.