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United States

An opening for the tax credit

A three-year extension of wind's federal production tax credit (PTC) in the US got a new lease on life in early April when Senate Republican leaders decided to separate energy tax provisions from the long-stalled energy policy bill and attach them to a corporate tax reform bill instead. The American Wind Energy Association's Jaime Steve calls the decision a significant step forward. "It creates a realistic opening for the PTC to be in effect again," he says.

Senate progress on the tax bill, however, proved slow through the month. The bill, which would repeal a tax break for exports ruled an illegal trade subsidy by the World Trade Organisation, is considered legislation that must pass this year. The House of Representatives is considering its own version of the bill. Once both bodies pass the legislation it will go to a conference committee to work out the differences. The House version does not include any energy tax provisions, but that body did pass a three-year PTC extension last year as part of its energy legislation.

The Senate bill would extend the PTC through December 31, 2006, eliminate the inflation adjustment provisions starting next January, expand the credit to other renewable generation technologies, create an exemption from the requirements of the US's alternative minimum tax for the first four years of turbine operation, and give tax-exempt entities like rural electric co-operatives and publicly-owned utilities access to renewable energy tax credits that they can sell to private companies.

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