FERC’s chairman warns against abrupt PTC expiration

Source: Hannah Northey, E&E reporter • Posted: Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Jon Wellinghoff, chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, warned today against allowing a key wind industry tax credit to expire at year’s end, saying it could devastate the industry

“Like anything else that the government does, it’s always good to provide the industry with some level of certainty,” Wellinghoff told reporters at the Platts Energy Podium in Washington, D.C., today. “I think that just a sort of arbitrary and immediate cutoff of a tax credit for that industry could have a devastating effect.”

FERC does not have direct jurisdiction over the tax issue, but it was Wellinghoff’s personal opinion that tax credits for the wind industry should be phased out, if they are going to end, he said.

That way, he said, the industry will have a chance to financially prepare for the change.

“Otherwise I think it’s extremely unfair for the industry, whether it be the wind industry … or the coal industry or anybody else,” Wellinghoff said. “I think it needs to be done in a rational, phased way.”

The chairman’s comments arrive on the heels of Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign coming out yesterday in strong opposition to extending the wind tax credit, saying the presumptive Republican nominee supports allowing it “to expire.” Romney also is tying the issue to broader opposition to President Obama’s support for renewable energy (E&E Daily, July 31).

For now, it is unclear whether the production tax credit and other expiring tax provisions will be extended before the elections or during a lame-duck session. Members of the Senate Finance Committee are aiming to produce an “extenders” package and are negotiating what provisions would be included in such a bill

Environmental and wind groups have been zeroing in on lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, urging the tax credits to be extended (Greenwire, July 30).