Changes to extenders bill unlikely, Hatch says, in encouraging sign for wind credit

Source: Nick Juliano, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, November 13, 2014

The top Republican on the Senate’s tax-writing committee says he does not expect many changes to a “hard-fought” package of tax break renewals that members from both parties want to see enacted before the end of the year — an assessment that is good news for supporters of a key renewable energy tax break.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who is ranking member on the Finance Committee, said yesterday that he would look at calls from conservative groups to eliminate the production tax credit, which primarily benefits wind energy, but he echoed earlier sentiments suggesting that lawmakers should not meddle with the overall package of “tax extenders,” of which the PTC is a part.

“That was a hard-fought package. It went through smoothly. I helped do that, and I don’t think we’re going to want to take a lot of changes,” Hatch told reporters yesterday, the first day of the lame-duck session.

“Unless they’re changes that I love,” he added with a chuckle before walking onto the floor.

Organizations including Americans for Prosperity and the American Energy Alliance, both of which are linked to the political network of billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch, are launching campaigns encouraging lawmakers to strip the PTC from the extenders package. AFP yesterday launched an ad campaign targeting 25 House Republicans it hopes to persuade to amend the package (E&E Daily, Nov. 12).

The 50 or so lapsed tax breaks included in the underlying extenders bill, which Hatch voted for when it passed committee earlier this year, also include breaks that enjoy broad support, including from conservatives. Wind industry lobbyists and their allies remain optimistic that the weight of the entire package will be enough to get the PTC across the finish line, especially given the support for the energy credit from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Finance Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), who will not hand over control of the upper chamber to Republicans until January.

Aides from both parties on both sides of the Capitol have suggested in recent days that the PTC stands a good shot of being renewed along with the rest of the extenders, given the desire among even GOP leaders to clear the decks of unfinished business before the new year. Hatch has previously said he would like to see the entire package renewed for another year, and his comments yesterday suggest that sentiment had not changed much over the lengthy recess that came to an end yesterday.