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United States

PTC battle goes on in Washington

The struggle to save wind's Production Tax Credit (PTC) was still going on at the end of May, just weeks before project eligibility for it expires on June 30. According to the American Wind Energy Association, the future still remained uncertain. As renewables lobbyists emphasised to politicians just how crucial the credit is, rumours were sweeping the industry that the credit could return as early as July, but perhaps only for a year. Wind development is expected to come to a near-screeching halt, at least for a while, when the PTC expires.

Worth about $0.017/kWh, it is available for the first ten years of a project's operational life-as long as the project is completed by the end of June. Extension or reinstatement of the wind market incentive has been caught up in debate over a whole package of taxes as Republicans try to push for spending cuts this legislative session. President Bill Clinton would almost certainly veto any bill with major cuts.

While support mounts for reinstatement of the PTC, a key US Senate subcommittee is proposing that federal budgets for renewables-including wind-be cut 20-25% from the amount proposed by the Clinton Administration, which would up the American wind budget for 2000 by 31% to $45.6 million. This fiscal year's budget is $34.8 million.

A disappointing vote by the US Senate Energy and Water Development Appropriations Sub-committee came on the heels of a plea by 54 Senators for a "boost in zero-emissions renewables in line with Clinton's request next fiscal year." Backed by 13 Republicans and 41 Democrats, the plea states: "Renewable energy investments are critical to reduce our dependence on foreign sources of oil, expand US markets and create jobs."

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