In a move that is leaving the wind energy industry breathing easier, the wind energy production tax credit was extended for a year and amended to include any installation that began construction by Jan. 1, 2014.
This marks a departure from the original language in the bill which required an installation to be in service by the former expiration of Jan. 1, 2013.
The extension came as part of the legislation rammed through Congress at the last minute to avert the fiscal cliff that would have raised taxes on most Americans and massively cut government spending. The deal maintains a 2.2 cent per kilowatt-hour tax credit for power generated over 10 years at new wind-energy facilities. And given that Wyoming's power rates are second-lowest in the nation at 6.7 cents per kilowatt-hour, the credit leaves the government paying about a third of the bill for wind energy generated in the state at a consumer level.
Vestas, which has cut many jobs in Colorado and around the world during the past year because of uncertainty in the industry surrounding the subsidy's extension or lack thereof, said the extension is "critical to sustaining the U.S. market going forward."
"Even though the late timing of the extension will result in a significant reduction in 2013 installations relative to previous years due to the time it takes from when an order is placed to project completion, the U.S. market will nonetheless be stronger as a result of the PTC extension," Vestas said in a statement.
Denise Bode, who today left her position as CEO of the American Wind Energy Association, thanked those involved in pushing the subsidy's extension, saying it will allow wind projects to continue developing in 2013 and 2014.
The association estimated that about half of the 75,000 U.S. jobs in wind energy were at stake pending the legislation as well as the fate of hundreds of U.S. factories.
"Now we can continue to provide America with more clean, affordable, homegrown energy and keep growing a new manufacturing sector that's now making nearly 70 percent of our wind turbines in the U.S.A.," said Rob Gramlich, who became AWEA's interim CEO today as Bode left her post.
The move is certainly seen as good news for Wyoming wind farms on the drawing table, including the 1,000-turbine Chokecherry/Sierra Madre wind farm and a 150-turbine farm on Belvoir Ranch near Cheyenne spearheaded by a Jackson entrepreneur.
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