New Tax Bill Includes Wind Energy Credit

Wind turbines in Central Washington near EllensburgSenate Finance Committee leaders unveiled a new draft of a bill to extend tax breaks Thursday morning, a version that includes the renewable energy production tax credit (PTC) that benefits the wind energy industry.

The PTC was included in the new “chairman’s mark” that Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), the panel’s chairman, and Sen. Orrin Hatch (Utah), its top Republican, introduced for markup Thursday morning. It was not in the first draft announced Tuesday.

The credit was included thanks to an amendment introduced by Sens. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.). It would extend the PTC for two years, the same period as most of the credits in the legislation.

“The wind PTC is an economic engine in Colorado that supports thousands of jobs in our state and tens of thousands more across the country,” Bennet said in a statement. “This extension will boost Colorado’s diverse energy industry and help us remain competitive in the global and changing economy.”

The Thursday morning proposal included a total of seven tax breaks out of the 50 that the Tuesday measure excluded. All of the tax provisions expired last year.

Wyden has supported the PTC in the past. In opening Thursday’s markup, he said that although he wants to enact a comprehensive tax reform package and stop temporarily renewing tax breaks, he recognized the need to renew tax breaks in the mean time.

If Congress did not renew the provisions, “clean energy would take a blow, threatening good American jobs and our ability to compete on technology with countries like China and Japan,” Wyden said, listing a variety of other consequences.

The Finance Committee was scheduled Thursday to consider dozens of amendments to the bill before voting on it.