Udall pushing to extend tax credit for wind energy production

by Eli Stokols, KDVR Denver • Posted: Friday, December 13, 2013

DENVER — Colorado Sen. Mark Udall is hoping he can get Congress to extend a tax credit for wind energy providers before it expires at the end of the year.

Udall is set to argue in a floor speech later this week or next that hundreds of Colorado jobs in the industry depend on the wind Production Tax Credit, or “PTC.”

“I’ll do whatever it takes to get the tax credit extended,” Udall told FOX31 Denver Thursday. “We’re not only protecting jobs but we’re making this new energy in America.”

“Wind manufacturing employs 1,500 people in Colorado today and supports over 5,000 jobs statewide. We need to extend the credit long-term. It’s crucial to wind energy and our nation’s energy independence. If we don’t do it, these jobs are going to go overseas to China and even India.”

The wind Production Tax Credit, or “PTC”, is due to expire at the end of the year; Congress barely passed an extension last year following a presidential election in which the GOP nominee, Mitt Romney, strongly opposed the extension, leaving Republicans, even those who’d supported it previously, little choice but to put off a vote until after the election.

But the uncertainty over the extension forced Vestas to lay off some 600 employees in Colorado alone, a fact that was even highlighted in a campaign ad last fall attacking Romney’s position.

“I don’t want to see us get to that point again,” Udall said. “I think we need a five-year phased-out extension.”

Last year, Udall made some 27 floor speeches urging the extension of the wind PTC before it actually happened at year’s end as part of the compromise deal to avert the so-called “fiscal cliff”.

In order to extend the wind PTC extension again this year through 2014, Udall will have to attach the proposal to another piece of legislation that’s likely to get through Congress before the end of the year.

Two possible targets are a tax extenders package and the new bipartisan budget framework that was announced this week and may be up for a vote in the House on Thursday.

“We’re reviewing all of our options, just looking for possible pressure points where we can get this done before the end of the year,” said James Owens, Udall’s press secretary.

“If it doesn’t happen in 2013, it can still be extended retroactively. But our goal is to provide certain for the industry as soon as possible.”

Republicans mostly oppose the PTC, arguing that the industry should be able to stand on its own without federal tax credits or subsidies.