Wind tax credit in Senate fiscal cliff legislation

Wind energy may emerge as one of the winners of the fiscal cliff tax negotiations, as compromise legislation passed by the Senate on Tuesday morning included a tax credit for renewable energy, according to the Associated Press.

The Senate overwhelmingly approved compromise legislation that would cancel some of the tax increases and spending cuts, characterized as a ‘fiscal cliff’, that had been scheduled to take effect on New Year’s Day, 2013.

The House is expected to vote on the legislation on Tuesday afternoon or Wednesday.

Wind energy supporters have campaigned for renewal of the production tax credit for wind expire, saying that it is key to financing new wind production projects. Advocates have argued that while wind energy may have high initial production costs, it can also serve as a protection against fluctuating natural gas and oil prices.

“We have to have a long term view that acknowledges the value of a fuel that doesn’t cost money to extract and that can provide a hedge against non-renewable fuels,” said Steve Gaw, policy director for The Wind Coalition, at a conference promoting wind energy in early December. “Wind makes a lot of sense – it is affordable and will make a difference as you move forward. It does good things for consumers and for the environment.”

The wind production tax credit has been controversial in Texas, and has become part of a larger dialogue on how the state can generate sufficient electric power to meet its own needs.

“In Texas we have a (Public Utilities Commission) chair who seems to believe that wind and production tax credit is destabilizing the market and having a negative impact on capacity,” said Jeff Clark, executive director of The Wind Coalition, at the conference. “It makes it more difficult to go into the capital market, but the truth is, our subsidy is just not as well hidden as the others in the energy industry.”