House committee to probe wind tax credit as expiration date once again approaches

Source: Nick Juliano, E&E reporter • Posted: Monday, September 30, 2013

A House committee this week will revive a debate that has been dormant on Capitol Hill for most of this year with a hearing examining the implications of a key renewable energy tax credit that again is set to expire in a few months.

The future of the wind production tax credit was among the biggest energy policy issues debated in Congress last year, leading to an eleventh-hour extension in January as part of a broader fiscal package. Since then, lawmakers have turned their attention elsewhere, and the fate of the PTC fell in with broader negotiations around a comprehensive overhaul of the tax code.

Though it is scheduled to expire again at the end of this year, a modification that accompanied the last extension combined with a favorable Internal Revenue Service interpretation means wind developers can continue to benefit from the credit at least through 2015 as long as they meet certain criteria (Greenwire, Sept. 23).

Wind industry lobbyists are asking lawmakers to include an extension or phaseout of the credit in the evolving comprehensive tax reform package, which is expected to be unveiled sometime this fall. If the comprehensive effort seems likely to stretch past the end of next year, the industry may seek another short-term renewal as part of a tax extenders package. Meanwhile, conservative opponents of the wind incentive are ramping up their lobbying against it (E&E Daily, Sept. 25).

As the issue starts to come out of hibernation, the House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Energy Policy will examine the PTC in more detail at a hearing scheduled for Wednesday.

A full witness list had not been posted by Friday afternoon, but a source familiar with planning for the hearing said it would feature testimony from an IRS representative as well as Robert Michaels, an economist with the conservative Institute for Energy Research, a think tank that opposes the credit.