The fate of a tax credit that advocates say is needed to maintain tens of thousands of wind-energy jobs will be decided during high-stakes, last-minute negotiations between President Obama and House Republicans over fiscal issues, officials said Tuesday. The wind-energy production tax credit is due to expire at the end of the year. Its extension stalled in Congress this summer amid fierce opposition from some conservative House Republicans. The last chance to extend the measure is in the budget deal that will be cut between Obama and Republicans in the lame-duck session of Congress.
The push to extend a key wind industry tax break maintains solid bipartisan support, but several senators see a short-term extension expected to pass before the end of this year as a bridge to phase out the credit over the next three to five years.
The production tax credit for wind energy is scheduled to lapse Dec. 31, although the industry has been aggressively lobbying for an extension and has collected an impressive number of supporters on both sides of the aisle. While the credit’s immediate fate largely depends on the outcome of larger year-end negotiations, several key lawmakers are beginning to look ahead to where the PTC will fit into broader tax reform discussions expected to occupy Congress and the Obama administration next year.
The largest wind farm in Massachusetts will begin operating before the end of the year and will sell power to NStar Inc. The Blue Sky East project is the first of three wind farms in New England that will create enough power for 50,000 homes. It will likely boost economic activity in the rural area and will act as a source of cheaper electricity for NStar’s customers.
Gov. John Kitzhaber and a bipartisan group of lawmakers urged Congress on Tuesday to extend production tax credits for the wind-energy industry before the end of the year. Kitzhaber joined fellow Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper of Colorado, Republican Govs. Terry Branstad of Iowa and Sam Brownback of Kansas, and Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, to push for the wind production tax credit to be renewed beyond Dec. 31.
Iowa Republican Senator Charles Grassley said he is hopeful Congress will renew a tax credit for wind energy but acknowledged that its fate depends on sweeping negotiations over tax and spending issues in coming weeks. Grassley, instigator of a 22-year-old production tax credit that has driven expansion of wind farms and related manufacturers, made his comments as governors from wind-producing states and companies involved in the industry pushed to keep the subsidy alive.
Governor Terry Branstad joined counterparts from three other states who are part of the Governor’s Wind Energy Coalition in Washington, D.C. Tuesday to call for a multi-year extension of the wind energy tax credit. Branstad is the chair of the bipartisan coalition of 28 governors. “Significant private sector investment in wind energy has occurred because of the support of both the federal and state policies. Our state has been the beneficiary of that, as have many states in this country,” Branstad said. Branstad, a Republican, said Iowa has already seen a negative economic impact over the uncertainty of the extension of the credit.
As the 18th-century English diarist Samuel Johnson said, “the prospect of a hanging concentrates the mind wonderfully.” In the energy field, it was the oil shocks of the 1970s that first focused our attention on the peril of banking our future on fossil fuels alone. Since then, policy makers, industry leaders and consumers have accelerated development of all energy sources, such as wind power, that help reduce our dependence on foreign energy, create new jobs that can’t be outsourced, and boost local economies.
As Congress begins its lame-duck session today, a bipartisan group of governors is urging an extension to a vital wind energy tax credit, the fate of which a key Senate backer says will depend heavily on whether congressional Republicans and the White House can reach a deal on broader tax and spending issues Congress faces before the end of the year. The governors come from states that receive a significant portion of their electricity from wind or have major manufacturing facilities where turbines, towers, blades and other components are built. Organized as the Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition, the state leaders have been part of the yearlong push to extend the production tax credit, which is scheduled to expire at the end of the year.
Gov. Sam Brownback and three other governors called on Congress on Tuesday to extend tax credits for wind energy before they expire at the end of the year. Brownback joined Govs. Terry Branstad, R-Iowa; John Hickenlooper, D-Colo.; and John Kitzhaber, D-Oregon, in a conference-call urging Congress to extend the subsidies for wind energy during the upcoming lame-duck session, the period between the election and when new members take their seats in January.
Republican Govs. Sam Brownback of Kansas and Terry Branstad of Iowa have been at the forefront of efforts to secure GOP support for the wind credit. They are leading members of the Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition, which includes both Democratic and Republican state executives. “Everybody wants to deal with the financial problems we have in this country,” Brownback said Tuesday. “It’s just that I think there’s a more prudent ground to go here than just to end this [credit] that’s been a key thing to us solving our fiscal problems in this country. … This helps grow the economy.”