WASHINGTON, D.C. -- A bipartisan group of Senators who proposed an extension of the federal Production Tax Credit on Thursday. Proposing the two-year extension were Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Mark Udall (D-Colo.), Scott Brown (R-Mass.), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Dean Heller (R-Nev.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.).
Two days prior, the transportation bill moved on after partisan amendments were voted down, including one from Stabenow with a 'kitchen's sink' of energy-related polices including a one-year extension of the PTC.
“Tax reform efforts might modify or address this incentive in the near future, but the jobs and opportunities provided by wind energy should not be abandoned in the meantime. And limiting the bill’s impact on the deficit can be addressed,” said Grassley. “Tax relief has succeeded in developing this clean, renewable and innovative energy source, and it ought to be continued with the degree of certainty that encourages continued investment. Unemployment remains high at 8.3 percent and energy costs are on the rise. Congress should renew the wind energy tax credit to develop clean energy alternatives and good paying jobs.”
Responding to the news of the legislation’s introduction, AWEA CEO Denise Bode said in a statement, "I want to applaud Senators Grassley, Udall, Brown, Harkin, Heller, Wyden and Bennet for introducing this important piece of legislation. The support of these Senate leaders, alongside the overwhelmingly strong and bipartisan support the Production Tax Credit extension has received in the House, clearly shows that wind energy is one of the few items of consensus in an otherwise difficult political climate.
"Immediate extension of the PTC is critical in order to save 37,000 U.S. wind manufacturing jobs that will otherwise be lost in the next year. Advancements in wind technology have resulted in a steady decline of the cost of electricity from wind, and we've been clear that we don't need the PTC forever. We are just asking to finish the job. One of America's fastest growing new manufacturing sectors would be lost if the PTC is not extended."
Udall said in media reports that he would be willing to move forward with the PTC without necessarily including the 1603 tax credit reimbursement program (from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) if it meant improving the chances at passage for the former.
“It’s like choosing between your children,” Udall said. “But if I had to choose, I think let’s say get the PTC back in place and continue to make the case for 1603.”
The introduction of the legislation capped a busy week for the PTC extension push. On Tuesday a pair of strikingly opposing PTC-related amendments—one that included an all-important, one-year PTC extension with numerous other energy provisions and another that would have ended the credit immediately, retroactive to the start of 2012—did not receive enough votes on Tuesday to be included in the transportation bill.
Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) introduced Senate Amendment 1812, which would have extended the PTC for one year, until the end of 2013, as well as extend the 1603 investment tax credit 48(C) manufacturing tax credit, in addition to including biodiesel and other provisions. Meanwhile, Senator Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) introduced his own amendment (Senate Amendment 1589) that, among other provisions, would have ended the PTC immediately upon passage—meaning that even projects under construction right now would not have been eligible for the credit. While the DeMint amendment claimed to cut all energy subsidies—it was the companion to the Pompeo bill in the House—it left untouched more than $30 billion in oil-and-gas incentives.
The transportation bill had been seen as a potential vehicle, albeit somewhat of a long shot, for a PTC extension. The wind industry is working feverishly for every possible legislative opportunity for a PTC extension because time is of the essence. While the PTC is scheduled to expire at the end of the year, the wind industry supply chain and the manufacturing jobs within it, in particular, are already feeling the effects of the uncertainty.
Meantime, Senate leadership engaged in a colloquy to agree on an extenders package for 2011 and a handful of 2012 tax extenders, including the PTC. The colloquy highlighted interest in the Senate in extending the PTC, among other provisions.
Carl Levesque is the communications editor at AWEA. This article first appeared in the AWEA Windletter and was reprinted with permission from the American Wind Energy Association.
Image: Mesut Dogan via Shutterstock