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Election - 'Lame duck' session may be PTC's best hope

UNITED STATES: US wind advocates are pinning their hopes on Congress being in the mood to strike a deal that extends the $0.022/kWh production tax credit (PTC) for wind-generated energy once the 6 November general election is over - but there are no guarantees that this will happen.

Lawmakers are expected to return to Washington after the vote, in what is commonly called a "lame duck" session to finish up leftover business before the newly elected crop of legislators is sworn in early next year.

The list of major issues waiting to confront them on their return is lengthy, with close to $600 billion in automatic spending cuts and tax increases scheduled to take effect in January if Congress doesn't act. Christine Tezak, managing director of research at the consulting firm Clearview Energy Partners LLC, worries that legislators could get caught up in an acrimonious debate over individual tax cuts and run out of time to deal with the package of 101 expired or expiring business tax breaks that includes the PTC.

Lack of time

"The conventional wisdom says it will get done in lame duck. People will hold their nose and just do it. The problem is Congress has been doing it less and less because of their inability to agree," said Tezak.

"What concerns me is the amount of runway they've left themselves. That to me is the risk."

Lawmakers will also be concerned about cost, said Tezak. Although there is enough support to pass a PTC extension, it will only be considered as part of a broader business tax package.

100 - Number of expiring business tax breaks awaiting a decision alongside the PTC

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