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Conservatives urge House Speaker to nix wind tax credit

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Forty-seven Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives are pushing Speaker John Boehner to eliminate the wind production tax credit, a tax break that has split Republicans and drawn criticism from presidential hopeful Mitt Romney.

Democratic President Barack Obama has urged Congress to extend the credit, which dates to 1992 and has support from Republicans in states that are home to wind farms and manufacturing plants, such as Iowa and South Dakota.

The credit has other powerful proponents in big companies that buy wind energy. Heavyweights including Microsoft Corp, Sprint and Hewlett-Packard have urged renewal. The industry calls it vital to ensuring jobs, including wind turbine tower manufacturing in a broad swath of U.S. states.

Republican opposition to renewable energy tax breaks has been galvanized by anger over a failed solar project backed by the Obama administration. Republicans referred to that project, a start-up company called Solyndra, several times in the letter.

"The Obama administration has poured billions into subsidizing its favored green energy sources," reads the letter dated September 21 from House Republicans to Boehner, also a Republican. "Twenty years of subsidizing wind is more than enough."

Signers of the letter include Republicans on the Energy and Commerce Committee, but does not include members of the powerful tax-writing Ways and Means Committee, which is led by Representative Dave Camp.

A spokesman for Boehner said the issue will be addressed after the election.

Mitt Romney, Obama's Republican rival for the presidency in elections on November 6, irked some members of his party when he backed ending the subsidy earlier this year.

Prominent Senate Republicans including Charles Grassley of Iowa are big wind credit supporters and extension is included in Senate legislation still pending.

The House and Senate are expected to make a decision on the wind credit, along with a slew of breaks known as "tax extenders" and the larger issue of individual tax rates, after the elections and before the extenders expire at year's end.

The wind industry says 37,000 jobs would be lost if the tax credit expires and some big companies have already attributed layoffs to the uncertainty, including Siemens. The credit costs about $11 billion a year. (Reporting by Kim Dixon; Editing by Howard Goller and Todd Eastham)

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