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U.S. lawmakers consider phaseout of wind energy tax break

U.S. lawmakers said they may consider extending and then phasing out the main tax break for producing wind energy.

Representative Patrick Tiberi, an Ohio Republican, said today he wanted to hear from the wind-energy industry about how such a phase-out might work.

“Is it two years?” asked Tiberi, a senior member of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee. “Is it three years? What is the magic number? And so this is the beginning of a process, but I think it’s a helpful process.”

Tiberi spoke after a hearing that addressed the wind credit and dozens of other expiring tax provisions. The wind tax credit will lapse at the end of 2012, and industry advocates say the pending expiration is causing job losses now.

During the hearing, lawmakers of both parties advocated an extension of the wind tax credit.

“I really believe that’s important for our nation’s energy future,” said Charles Bass, a New Hampshire Republican.

Tiberi said he thought a tax credit extension probably wouldn’t become law before Congress leaves for its summer recess in August. He said the Republican-led House may vote on some expiring provisions before then.
‘Vitally Important’

An extension of the production tax credit is “vitally important,” said Denise Bode, chief executive officer of the American Wind Energy Association.

“The wind industry would be receptive to working with Congress” in considering a phase-down of the credit as lawmakers reassess tax and energy policy, she said in a statement.

Senator Max Baucus, a Montana Democrat who heads the Finance Committee, said last month that a phase-out might be the most realistic path to the credit’s extension.

“The industry needs a little boost, but that boost can’t last forever,” he said.

Representative Dave Camp, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, wouldn’t say whether he thought a resolution to the issue was possible before the Nov. 6 election.

“We’re looking at all the options,” the Michigan Republican said in a brief interview today.

The bill is H.R. 3307.