AWEA hails PTC extension as part of 'fiscal cliff' package

The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) says a one-year extension to the industry’s key federal tax credit is cause for New Year celebrations among the sector’s 75,000 US workers.

As part of a package to avoid the US economy falling off the so-called “fiscal cliff”, Congress approved an extension of the wind energy Production Tax Credit (PTC) and Investment Tax Credits (ITC) for community and offshore projects.

It was part of a “tax-extender" package drawn up last summer and included in the fiscal cliff deal, which after days of tense political haggling now just needs the formality of a signature from President Obama.

The version included in the deal will cover all wind projects that start construction in 2013, says AWEA. “Companies that manufacture wind turbines and install them sought that definition to allow for the 18-24 months it takes to develop a new wind farm,” says a statement from the industry body.

Although the one-year PTC extension was the minimum the industry had sought – and, for the moment, is far from the six-year “glide path” AWEA suggested in December – it at least avoids a complete and instant termination of the incentive.

Rob Gramlich, who becomes AWEA's interim chief executive today, says: "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% of our wind turbines in the US.”

Gramlich replaces outgoing CEO Denise Bode. She says: "On behalf of all the people working in wind energy manufacturing facilities, their families, and all the communities that benefit, we thank President Obama and all the members of the House and Senate who had the foresight to extend this successful policy, so wind projects can continue to be developed in 2013 and 2014.”

AWEA had claimed 37,000 industry jobs were at risk if the PTC was not renewed beyond 2012.

Uncertainty about its future caused a rush to complete projects before the end of 2012 and a crash in confidence over the US wind industry’s prospects for 2013.

However, industry commentators say the longer-term shape and extent of support for the sector remains a cause of major uncertainty, despite the one-year reprieve.