Extension is sought for expiring wind tax credit

Source: ALEX GUILLEN • POLITICO • Posted: Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Wind turbines are seen at the Smoky Hill Wind Farm near Ellsworth, Kan. | AP Photo

Advocates say the credit is essentially expiring now due to the nature of wind projects. | AP Phot

Some Democratic and Republican lawmakers still aren’t giving up on extending the wind production tax credit, which expires at the end of the year.

Supporters had hoped an extension could be included in the payroll tax cut deal that cleared Congress on Friday, probably the last must-pass bill of the year. Now they’re looking for other opportunities.

“There’s very strong support for it, and we still have time to deal with it,” Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) said last week. “I wish we would have dealt with it in this bill, but there are a lot of tax credits, tax provisions that needed to be extended.

“We’ve got to bring it back up again, and we’ve got some time yet, but the vehicle is gone,” Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) said.

Asked about a road map, King said he would need time to figure out his next steps.

“That means circling our wagons and going back to work with our people and taking this back in to leadership and seeing what they might be open to,” he added.

Legislation with the potential to carry a payroll tax cut extension includes the GOP’s energy and transportation package.

A tax-extenders package is another possibility, Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) said Thursday, although it could come too late to keep wind manufacturers busy.

Although the credit expires at the end of the year, advocates said the long time needed to plan, permit and construct wind projects means it is essentially expiring right now.

“This stop-start business is very disruptive,” Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-Ohio) said.

A bill backed by Reps. Dave Reichert (R-Wash.) and Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) would extend the credit for four years.

While tax provisions rarely pass as stand-alone bills, the measure has served as a rallying point for some Republicans to join Democrats. So far it has attracted the support of Republicans including House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas of Oklahoma, Don Young of Alaska and Kristi Noem of South Dakota.

Extension efforts also got a boost from the conservative U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The credit’s uncertain future is bad for business, the chamber’s tax policy director testified to a Senate committee earlier this month.

King isn’t necessarily up for a four-year extension, however.

Instead, he’d like to see a phaseout so the industry learns to stand on its own two feet.

“Here’s the ask, really, of them: We extend your wind credit for a year. You come back to us in that period of time with a plan to phase the credit down so that the industry can stand on its own,” King said.