Tax credit moves wind industry to ramp up construction plans

Several wind manufacturers already are reporting projects ready for construction in 2013, just days after Congress extended the renewable energy production tax credit, an industry group said Friday.

Many projects had been put on hold in 2012 because a production tax credit, which gives wind developers a 2.2-cent tax break for every kilowatt-hour of energy produced, was due to expire at the end of the year. Uncertainty over its extension led many wind developers to delay projects until they were certain that the tax break would be available in 2013, according to the American Wind Energy Association.

“The wind industry has been reinvigorated by this much-needed signal from congressional leaders,” said Rob Gramlich, interim CEO of the American Wind Energy Association, in a written statement. “Billions of dollars of investment sat idled by uncertainty that now can flow into new wind projects and our manufacturing sector. Congress has sent the necessary signal in extending the PTC and many are able to move ahead—and America’s energy consumers, manufacturing sector, and working families are the winners.”

First Wind, a Boston-based manufacturer, said it plans to expand its portfolio by 50 percent, for example. Nebraska-based Prairie Breeze Wind Energy Center will invest $350 million in new capital and a 300-megawatt wind farm is planned in Minnesota by RES Americas, a British-based company that also has wind facilities in Colorado and Texas.

The American Wind Energy Association estiamtes that the production tax credit extension has protected 37,000 of the estimated 75,000 jobs in wind energy.