United States

United States

Tax credit pressure applied

South Dakota Senator John Thune, a Republican, has introduced legislation to extend wind's production tax credit (PTC), set to expire at the end of 2008, through 2012. He refers to wind as an "under-utilised resource that has the potential to provide cost-effective energy to millions of Americans." Thune adds: "Extending the PTC through 2012 would give the wind industry a consistent and reliable economic incentive and encourage manufacturers to invest in and expand facilities in the US."

The bill, introduced May 3, also calls for an increase in the amount of Clean Renewable Energy Bonds (CREB), a financing vehicle available to electric co-operatives and public power systems that are not able to use the PTC, from $1.2 billion to $2.25 billion. The CREB program was created in the Energy Policy Act of 2005.

Thune's proposal has been referred to the Senate Committee on Finance. The bill is not the only PTC legislation before Congress. In January, North Dakota Democrat Earl Pomeroy introduced a bill in the House of Representatives calling for a five year PTC extension. That proposal is now before the House Ways and Means Committee. Congress does not normally vote on individual bills like these, but instead wraps them up into larger tax bills that are written in committee.

Meanwhile, the wind industry is expecting a Senate vote on a national renewables portfolio standard (RPS) this month. The body's energy committee passed a limited energy bill in early May that did not contain an RPS, but chairman Jeff Bingaman, a Democrat from New Mexico, is likely to introduce an amendment on the floor of the Senate calling for utilities to buy 15% of their power from renewable sources by 2020.

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