wind turbine

What Mitt Romney might call a “devil flower.” (Photo by Eric Tastad.)

Last week, we told you about Mitt Romney’s visit to Colorado, made a smidge uncomfortable by his suggesting that he wanted all Coloradans to get fired from their jobs and, worse, move to Wyoming. Well, not really. He only wanted people who worked in the wind industry to lose their jobs, and he didn’t take a public position on their state of residence.

If the production tax credit for wind energy — due to expire at the end of the year — isn’t renewed, thousands of people in Colorado could lose their jobs. Not to mention some of their wind power — an energy source that provided a record-setting percentage of power to the state’s biggest utility on a day in April.

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During the early morning hours of April 15, with a steady breeze blowing down Colorado’s Front Range, the state’s biggest utility set a U.S. record — nearly 57% of the electricity being generated was coming from wind power.

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As dawn came and the 1.4 million customers in Xcel Energy’s service district began turning on the lights, toasters and other appliances, the utility’s coal and natural gas-fired power plants ramped up production and brought wind’s contribution back closer to its 2012 average of 17%. …

Colorado’s overnight high-water mark demonstrated that utilities can indeed incorporate cleaner power sources into the mix.

Mind you, this is at the front end of a transition to renewable energy. Wind provides an average of about a fifth of the state’s power needs.

Yet the industry is at risk. The production tax credit has become a political hot button. Iowa’s Republican governor recently blasted Romney for opposing it, suggesting Romney’s position stemmed from a “bunch of East Coast people that need to get out here in the real world to find out what’s really going on.”

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The Obama campaign has made saving it an election issue, releasing this ad (“Our Jobs Come from the Wind”) on Friday.

Rumors that the Romney camp was preparing a rebuttal — “Screw You, Wind Blows” — could not be confirmed.