The PTC, scheduled to expire at the end of this year, was not originally part of the deal hammered out by committee members from the Republican and Democratic parties.
Chairman Max Baucus, a Montana Democrat, added it in Thursday morning with wording that gives industry, which has slowed development of new wind projects because of the potential lapse of the credit, extra time to gear back up. For 2013, projects would qualify for the PTC if they start construction, not begin operation, by the end of the year.
"This was an extremely important step to provide critical certainty to keep people at work in wind energy manufacturing and construction," said American Wind Energy Association CEO Denise Bode.
The vote is only a first step, however. With lawmakers heading out of Washington for a five-week recess, the legislation will not be considered by the full Senate until September.
It is unclear when the House of Representatives will take up the matter, and complicating the issue for Republicans in Congress is presidential hopeful Mitt Romney’s opposition to extending the PTC.
The package also extends the 30% investment tax credit (ITC), which provides an incentive for the development of offshore and community wind projects.