Final tax bill removes language that put Colorado’s wind industry on shaky ground

Source: By Danika Worthington, Denver Post • Posted: Thursday, December 21, 2017

$1.1 million of investments in Colorado are now on steady ground again

These are some of the wind ...
Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post. Wind turbines on the property of The National Renewable Energy Laboratory, which are used for research.

The final tax bill, which is now on its way to President Donald Trump’s desk, is a relief to wind industry advocates, who say it steadies the ground under $50 billion of investments, including $1.1 billion in Colorado.

The final bill took the Senate’s language when it came to the Production Tax Credit, preserving an already existing tax credit phase-out plan approved by Congress in 2015, instead of embracing language in the House’s bill that retroactively changed available credits and the conditions to qualify.

“We appreciate Sen. (Cory) Gardner and Congressman (Mike) Coffman for fighting for a tax reform bill that stands up for Colorado’s 7,000 wind workers and businesses that will keep investing in U.S factories and rural communities,” Tom Kiernan, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association, said in a statement.

The House version included language that changed how companies could qualify for production tax credits, removing an option that counted projects that had put down 5 percent of the final construction costs at the beginning as long as the project was finished in four years. Additionally, construction on projects had to be continuous.

In the House’s bill, the value of the credit would have gone from $24 per megawatt hour to $15 megawatt hour. If projects that previously qualified lost their eligibility, they would have to requalify for a stepped-down rate as the phase-out continues.

“We are pleased that the final tax reform bill preserves the renewable tax credits and their planned phasedown and also reduces the overall tax rate,” Frank Prager, Xcel Energy’s vice president of policy and federal affairs, said in a statement. “This allows for our on-going investment in clean, reliable and low-cost energy and will directly benefit our customers and the economy as a whole.”

Xcel has been constructing the Rush Creek Wind Project, which is a 600-megawatt project spanning 90,000 acres across five counties and is expected to inject $1 billion into the economy.

While the nation waited for the House and Senate bills to be meshed together, a chilling effect had swept through the industry, Kiernan had previously told The Denver Post.

Colorado has the fourth-most wind-industry employees in the country with at least 15 manufacturing facilities, including those for global turbine manufacturing giant Vestas and steel producer O’Neal Steel. Colorado generates more than 17 percent of its electricity from wind power, according to AWEA.