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United States

United States

High hopes for PTC extension

UNITED STATES: The US wind sector has a good opportunity to push for a quick extension of the $0.022/kWh production tax credit (PTC) when Congress returns to work later this month, renewable energy lobbyists said.

The industry pulled out all the stops in late 2011 to get the PTC, set to expire at the end of 2012, included in year-end tax legislation passed by Congress. It failed, but the fact that the House and Senate could only agree on a two-month package "is the next best outcome for us" because it means lawmakers will be revisiting tax policy early in 2012, said Jaime Steve, director of government relations for Pattern Energy Group.

Gregory Wetstone, vice president of governmental affairs for Terra-Gen Power, agreed: "That’s really not a bad situation for us. It’s certainly better than we might have anticipated maybe two or three months ago."

The industry made "a lot of headway" during its year-end lobbying effort, said Wetstone. A PTC extension was part of the negotiations on the Senate side, he said, and although it was ultimately dropped in the final package, it did not generate a lot of partisan controversy. "That is probably a good sign."

If a PTC extension does end up as part of a bill extending expiring tax breaks, however, it likely won’t be for the four years the industry wants, said Joseph Mikrut of Capital Tax Partners. Historically, extensions in that type of legislation have been limited to a year or two.

A longer-term PTC would have to be part of broader energy legislation, he said, and "it doesn’t necessarily look like there is going to be an energy bill on the horizon in the next year."

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