Washington, D.C., Dec. 17 — American wind power and tens of thousands of workers in its U.S. supply chain will have a brief opportunity for new projects as the U.S. Senate voted last night to extend a critical incentive for 2014. The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) promised to continue seeking a more stable policy to allow wind energy to keep scaling up in America.
“Unfortunately, the extension to the end of 2014 will only allow minimal new wind development and it will have expired again by the time the new Congress convenes.” said Tom Kiernan, CEO of AWEA, after the Senate voted 76-16 for a one-year extension of 55 tax policies including the renewable energy Production Tax Credit (PTC) and Investment Tax Credit (ITC).
The House voted for the package 378-46 on Dec. 3. President Obama is now expected to sign the bill this week, giving wind energy developers less than two weeks to start construction to qualify new projects for the tax relief. Developers have had to deal with uncertainty all year since the credits expired Dec. 31, 2013 for any project not started by then.
AWEA had sought a two-year extension through the end of 2015 so wind developers could launch more new projects, which can take 18 to 24 months or more to develop. “The inclusion in this year’s tax extenders bill is a reflection of the continued bipartisan support for wind energy,” said Kiernan. “But when the 114th Congress begins, clean energy incentives will already be expired. There will be a lot of work to do as soon as possible in the new year to keep this important sector of the economy growing by providing longer term policy support.”
“These common-sense policies have succeeded in attracting an average of $17 billion a year of private investment in the U.S. economy,” added Kiernan. “American workers can make more of our own energy right here at home, but Congress must listen to the overwhelming majority of American voters who want these policies to continue.”
With these critically important tax incentives, American wind power has rapidly scaled up, providing enough power for over 18 million American homes and promising to generate 20 percent of the electricity in America by 2030. The industry has created an average of 73,000 full-time jobs over the past five years. A survey of 823 voters, Nov. 20-23, 2014, found 73 percent support “keeping the Production Tax Credit in place so that investment in wind energy can continue.”