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United States

Tax credit progress

Extension of the US production tax credit (PTC) moved a step closer to reality last month when the House of Representatives approved a wide-ranging energy bill that would push the PTC expiry date to January 1, 2007. The extension is part of nearly $19 billion in tax breaks and incentives contained in the bill, more than two-thirds of which goes to oil, gas, coal and nuclear power development. Meanwhile, the Senate Finance Committee has adopted its own $16 billion energy tax package that also extends the PTC to January 1, 2007, and expands it to include solar, geothermal, biomass and landfill gas production. But the Senate bill eliminates the annual inflation adjustment, capping the PTC at its current $0.018/kWh.

The Senate committee, voted to create a renewable energy "tradable tax credit" for public power systems and rural electric co-operatives which cannot make use of the PTC because they are tax-exempt. According to the American Wind Energy Association, the tax credit will help compensate for the failure of the renewable energy production incentive for publicly owned utilities, which is "is too poorly funded" to be meaningful.

The Senate package also includes a 30% investment tax credit, capped at $2000, for small wind turbines for residential and business purposes.

The finance committee's tax package is likely to be wrapped into larger energy policy legislation expected to go to the Senate floor in May. Once the Senate passes its energy bill, the differences between it and the House version will have to be reconciled in final legislation that is acceptable to both chambers before it can be sent to President George Bush for his signature. Last year, energy policy legislation died when lawmakers failed to reach agreement on a final bill. Passage is far from certain this year.

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