Wind energy group devising plan to present to tax committees

Source: By Zack Colman, The • Posted: Tuesday, May 7, 2013

A top wind trade group said Monday that it’s crafting a long-term policy plan that it plans to take to tax-writing committees in the House and the Senate.

The proposal will include “a number of scenarios or strategies,” incoming American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) CEO Tom Kiernan said at the organization’s annual conference in Chicago. AWEA officials will embark on a road show of sorts to get input from industry stakeholders before finalizing a proposal.

But a gradual phase out of a key industry tax incentive floated by AWEA in December is not necessarily the organization’s top option, Kiernan said.

Kiernan said AWEA suggested ramping down the production tax credit over the course of six years as part of an analysis of what the industry needed to be “minimally viable.” He stressed the House Ways and Means Committee requested the exercise, and that it was performed in the context of broad tax code changes.

That AWEA is not primarily seeking a phase out will be news to some Republicans. Many interpreted the analysis as AWEA’s ask in the midst of a fight to extend the credit last year.

The production tax credit is the centerpiece of the analysis. It awards wind-power producers a 2.2-cent credit for every kilowatt-hour of electricity generated, and it expires at the end of the year.

AWEA is trying to secure more stable policy to give stronger signals to investors. Those options include a phase out for the credit and making the incentive permanent, which President Obama has advocated.

But Republicans ranging from Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), who opposes the credit, to Rep. James Lankford (R-Okla.), who chairs the Republican Policy Committee, have told The Hill they believe a phase out is AWEA’s stance.

Other Republicans — such as Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.), a wind supporter, and some GOP lawmakers on the House Ways and Means Committee — contend that AWEA has not yet offered a specific solution for the tax credit.

Of Republicans, Kiernan said that he’s “not sure what their interpretations are” of AWEA’s policy aims.

Kiernan said AWEA recently reissued its analysis to a House Way and Means Committee energy task force. Rob Gramlich, AWEA’s interim chief executive, said the letter “clarified” that it was not specifically pushing for a phase out.

Congress renewed the production tax credit in January — after allowing it to lapse one day — as part of sweeping legislation to avoid the “fiscal cliff,” despite opposition from fiscal conservatives. But wind industry supporters say that uncertainty scared off investment for this year.



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