Learning to live with George Bush

Given the go-ahead by voters to pursue his agenda for four more years, President George Bush is unlikely to include any new financial or policy incentives for the wind industry in his vow to spend the "political capital" earned during the campaign. "The federal government decided long ago that it would support the PTC and tax credits" but not other policies like a national renewables mandate, says Jaime Steve of the American Wind Energy Association, referring to wind's production tact credit (PTC).

It is unlikely the wind industry will find success pursuing a national minimum standard for renewable energy through the US Congress, at least before the next congressional election in 2006. Republicans, who opposed the measure in the last Congress, have increased their majorities in both the House of Representatives and the Senate in the November 2 elections.

Still, says Steve, there is a large bipartisan majority in both houses that support a PTC. So the question, as always, is not if the tax credit will be extended, the question is when and whether the extension will be multi-year. "We hope to get the extension before the 15 months is up," he says, referring to the length of the PTC extension approved this year in September (Windpower Monthly, October 2004).

Steve's confidence that legislators will extend the PTC has partially to do with support for the tax credit from a broader section of the renewables industry. The solar, hydropower and landfill gas lobbies are all on board, and a change to the definition of biomass could bring the powerful timber lobby into the fray.

Government can still influence wind development in other ways. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which oversees much of the federal lands in the western US, approved a streamlined siting policy for wind projects on BLM lands in 2003 and it is still possible that the US Forest Service could follow suit.