A vote is expected this week in the US Senate on an amendment that would extend the wind production tax credit (PTC) for one year until 31 December 2013, with supporters facing an uphill struggle to find 60 votes needed for passage.
Senator Debbie Stabenow, a Michigan Democrat, introduced the amendment to a highway transportation bill. It also proposes to revive the Section 1603 Treasury cash grant programme, which offered renewable energy developers a direct cash payment of up to 30% for power projects in lieu of the federal investment tax credit.
The amendment is one of 30 proposed for the bill. Another was introduced by South Carolina Republican Jim DeMint, which aims to repeal all energy tax credits, something unlikely to win passage.
The wind industry led by its main lobbying arm, American Wind Energy Association, has been pushing a four-year PTC extension to give companies a more a predictable timeline to plan and execute investments, and to preserve thousands of jobs.
Congress has been voting one-year extensions since late last decade and often right before the prior one expired. Many sector executives expect this to occur again this year after early November elections.
With the US government borrowing 40 cents for every dollar it spends, some lawmakers are saying that taxpayers cannot keep subsidizing the wind sector. “We can’t afford it,” says Senator Lamar Alexander, a Tennessee Republican.
President Barack Obama last month proposed making the PTC perrmanent while eliminating breaks for the oil and gas industry.