PTC renewal stalls in US Senate

Efforts to revive the US Production Tax Credit (PTC) for wind power ran into a political roadblock when a group of Republican senators halted a bill that included a two-year extension to the key federal incentive.

The procedural blockage – prompted by a row over amendments – stalled a bipartisan tax-extenders bill that the US industry hoped would carry the PTC and Investment Tax Credit (ITC) to renewal through 2015 along with a range of other measures.

As recently as 10 days ago the American Wind Energy Association said it was optimistic about the prospects for the tax-extenders.

But some Senate Republicans declined to support the tax-extenders package, which includes dozens of tax breaks for a variety of industries, unless they could strip out the wind PTC element – something Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, refused to countenance.

And so the entire bill remains stalled, at least for now.

Supporters of the incentive in wind-friendly states such as Colorado vowed to continue their efforts – but observers said yesterday’s outcome raises the danger that the PTC will be left dangling until the end of the year.

Democratic Senator Ron Wyden, of Oregon, said he hopes to revive the bill as early as next week, but for now the US wind industry is left on tenterhooks.

Even were the PTC to pass the Senate, it still needs approval in the Republican-controlled House, something many observers see as unlikely before November's mid-term elections.

The PTC's chances would darken considerably were the Republicans to regain control of the Senate in November.

The stop-start nature of the PTC has contributed to the boom-bust cycle of US wind development over recent years.

Colorado Senator Michael Bennet said: “This tax extenders bill was approved by the Senate Finance Committee with strong bipartisan support. Coloradans and the American people deserve better.

“The wind tax credit is an economic driver for Colorado’s diverse energy industry. It supports thousands of jobs up and down the supply chain," Bennet added.

“Delaying this extension risks the same type of economic damage we experienced that last time the credit was allowed to expire. We are committed to getting this done and will continue to look for every possible avenue to extend the PTC and ITC.”