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Wind Energy Tax Credit Extension Passes with Fiscal Cliff Deal

On January 1, 2013, Congress passed legislation that included the long-sought extension of wind energy tax credits in a bill to avert the "fiscal cliff" that now moves to President Obama for his expected signature.

The extension of the production tax credit (PTC) and Investment Tax Credit (ITC) is expected to save up to 37,000 jobs and create far more over time, and to revive business at nearly 500 manufacturing facilities across the country. Wind energy PTC, and ITC for community and offshore projects, will allow continued growth of the energy source that installed the most new electrical generating capacity in America last year, according to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA).

The version included in the deal would cover all wind projects that start construction in 2013. Companies that manufacture wind turbines and install them sought that definition to allow for the 18-24 months it takes to develop a new wind farm.

Leaders of the Senate Finance Committee included that version in a "tax extenders" package they assembled in August, which made it into the overall fiscal cliff deal that passed the Senate early Tuesday morning and the House Tuesday night. President Obama is expected to sign the bill into law swiftly.

The Energy Information Administration said that wind set a new record in 2012 by installing 44 percent of all new electrical generating capacity in America, leading the electric sector compared with 30 percent for natural gas, and lesser amounts for coal and other sources. 

However, America's wind energy workers have been living under threat of the PTC's expiration for over a year and layoffs had already begun, as companies idled factories because of a lack of orders for 2013. Uncertain federal policies have caused a "boom-bust" cycle in U.S. wind energy development for over a decade.

Half the American jobs in wind energy – 37,000 out of 75,000 – and hundreds of U.S. factories in the supply chain would have been at stake had the PTC been allowed to expire, according to a study by Navigant Consulting.

"On behalf of all the people working in wind energy manufacturing facilities, their families, and all the communities that benefit, we thank President Obama and all the Members of the House and Senate who had the foresight to extend this successful policy, so wind projects can continue to be developed in 2013 and 2014," said Denise Bode, CEO of AWEA for the past four years who recently announced that she is stepping down.

"Now we can continue to provide America with more clean, affordable, homegrown energy, and keep growing a new manufacturing sector that's now making nearly 70 percent of our wind turbines in the U.S.A.," said Rob Gramlich, who takes over as AWEA's interim CEO today.

Lead image: Cows with Wind Turbines via Shutterstock

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