Renewable Energy World.com
July 22, 2015
In a lopsided 23-3 vote, the U.S. Senate Finance Committee voted yesterday to extend a number of renewable energy production tax credits through the end of 2016. The vote allows developers of wind, geothermal, biomass, landfill gas, incremental hydroelectric, and ocean energy to take advantage of federal tax credits for projects begun before December 31, 2016.
Chief among big renewable winners was the wind energy industry, which received extensions to the Production Tax Credit (PTC) and the Investment Tax Credit (ITC). If passed, wind farms would qualify for a 2.3-cent-per-kilowatt-hour (kWh) credit through the end of 2016.
The next step will be to send the bill to the full Senate, but when that will take place is unknown at this time. In order to become law, the bill will have to pass the Senate and the House of Representatives.
Tom Kiernan, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) called the vote “a big step in the right direction” and urged the Senate and House of Representatives to pass the tax extenders package – a decision he said will “continue to grow American jobs and heavy manufacturing, and support rural economic growth.”
Domestic wind farm development has thrived under the PTC and ITC, resulting in a lowering of cost by more than half over the course of the past five years and driving the U.S. to become the top wind energy producer in the world. A previous expiration of wind tax credits in 2013 dropped construction of new wind farms by 92 percent and resulted in the loss of 30,000 industry jobs. Following the renewal of the PTC in 2014, U.S. wind energy jobs increased by 23,000.
Yesterday’s vote showed strong bipartisan support for renewable energy initiatives. Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) said the tax provisions are necessary to encouraging and promoting the growth of renewable energy, adding, “If they are expired, they aren’t doing much good. That being the case, we need to move this package forward as soon as possible.”