Wind group optimistic about tax credit in lame duck

Source: Nick Juliano, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, November 8, 2012

Victories by President Obama and congressional wind energy supporters from both parties have energized an industry fighting to keep a vital tax break from expiring at the end of the year.

The American Wind Energy Association is feeling good about its chances of winning an extension of the production tax credit, which will expire Dec. 31 unless Congress acts. Continuing the credit has been AWEA’s top goal this year, and yesterday’s elections have the industry optimistic about its chances.

“We look forward to immediate action when Congress returns for the sake of the 37,000 jobs” that would be lost without an extension, Denise Bode, AWEA’s president and CEO, said in a conference call this afternoon.

At least 4,000 jobs already have been lost in the wind industry because virtually no orders have been placed for next year amid uncertainty surrounding the PTC.

The fate of the PTC became an issue in the presidential campaign this summer, after aides to Republican challenger Mitt Romney said he would let the credit expire. Obama called for an extension of the credit, and Democrats used it to energize clean energy supporters in wind-heavy states like Iowa and Colorado.

Obama won both of those states on his way to a resounding electoral college victory last night, and wind energy champions from both political parties prevailed in down-ballot races. Bode pointed to victories by Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Wash.), who introduced a PTC extension bill last year, as well as Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), Rep. Tom Latham (R-Iowa) and Sen.-elect Dean Heller (R-Nev.), all of whom have supported extending the credit.

“Wind energy was a major topic debated in this year’s elections at every level,” and voters “overwhelmingly approve of wind energy and they vote for politicians who support it,” Bode said.

The PTC is one of many high-profile pieces of business on Congress’ year-end agenda, which will begin in earnest next week when lawmakers return for a lame-duck session expected to last at least through mid-December. Lawmakers also will have to grapple with expiring tax cuts first enacted under President George W. Bush, a temporary payroll tax cut set to lapse at the end of the year and across-the-board spending cuts known as the sequester

The Senate Finance Committee in August endorsed a “tax extenders” bill that would continue the PTC for any wind farms that begin construction next year, although it did not come to the floor before the elections. House Republicans have yet to introduce their own extenders bill.

It remains unclear whether the extenders package will come to the floor as a stand-alone measure, although many observers expect its fate will be tied to the other tax and spending issues known as the fiscal cliff.