Area economic development promoters said the one-year extension to the Wind Energy Production tax credit approved Tuesday as part of fiscal cliff legislation has the potential to spark local projects.
But the extension’s limited time frame, allowing for a 2.2 cent per kilowatt hour tax credit for wind electricity produced for 10 years on projects started by 2013 and completed by 2014, may not be enough incentive to start new wind energy projects from scratch, said John Osbourne, executive director of the Lubbock Economic Development Alliance.
Osbourne said it’s possible wind energy companies could announce new development in the region in the next six to nine months, but the 18- to 24-month time frame it takes to secure and erect a wind project, along with uncertainty of a future tax credit extension, could leave some companies holding off.
Like Osbourne, Justin Jaworski, executive director of the Floydada Economic Development Corp., said he had not heard signals from the industry announcing new projects because of the tax credit extension.
“It’s a little bit too early to tell at this point,” Jaworksi said. “I think the biggest thing at this point is waiting to see what’s going to happen next.”
Tuesday night’s tax package, part of the fiscal cliff bill approved by Congress, included an extension of the nearly 21-year-old incentive program, affecting the wind energy industry and turbine lease holders across the South Plains.
The tax credit also allows renewable energy facilities that begin construction before the end of 2013 to claim the credit.
Spokespersons for two of the leading wind energy companies operating wind farms on the South Plains said their companies have not made plans for wind projects because of the tax credit extension.
Kossara Marchinkova, director of external relations and communications for Enel Green Power, which operates the Snyder Wind Farm, released a statement to the Avalanche-Journal on Thursday.
“Enel Green Power is currently operating one wind power plant in Texas but our development plans for the time being do not include further expansion in the state,” she said.
Alissa Krinsky, director of communications for Invenergy LLC, which operates the Camp Springs wind farm near Snyder, said in a statement her company has no updates for Panhandle/South Plains projects.
But she urged the A-J to check back in the coming months.
The American Wind Energy Association offered a more optimistic outlook for the wind industry, announcing Wednesday the tax credit extension could save up to 37,000 jobs, has the potential to produce more and could revive business at nearly 500 manufacturing facilities.
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