Wind Energy Prospects Downgraded for 2004

Even if the 10-year 1.8 cents/kWh production tax (PTC), which expired at the end of 2003, is extended this year, the lapse may have a negative impact on U.S. wind industry growth beyond 2004 because concerns regarding ongoing tax policy uncertainty may restrict the industry’s access to more diverse funding sources, according to a new study by Platts Research & Consulting (PR&C).

Boulder, Colorado – January 30, 2004 [SolarAccess.com] “Tax policy uncertainty continues to have a negative impact upon the wind industry,” said Brandon Owens, director of the Renewable Power Service at PR&C and author of the new study. “Institutional equity investors, who are needed to provide new sources of capital that are critical to wind industry growth, are particularly sensitive to tax policy uncertainty. Because of the PTC lapse, these new investors may be reluctant to participate in the wind market-even after the PTC has been extended-because of the increased perception of risk.” Owens believes that 1.6 gigawatts of new wind capacity are “at-risk” in 2004 alone, and PR&C has revised the wind energy outlook downward in response to the PTC lapse. According to Owens, states with renewable portfolio standards such as California, New York, Nevada and Texas are likely to be impacted most. A proposed three-year extension of the credit was included in the $31 billion energy bill that was blocked in the Senate when supporters fell two votes short of cutting off a filibuster. Although Congressional debate on the energy bill is expected to begin in the early months of 2004, the timeline for gaining an extension is uncertain. In the study, “Financing Wind,” Owens notes that tax policy stability is a prerequisite for continued U.S. wind industry growth, which has been growing at an average annual rate of 30 percent over the last 4 years. The report also discusses the keys to attracting financing from capital markets and institutional investors. The study, to be published in February, is available to members of PR&C’s Renewable Power Service.
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