US Congress Extends Wind PTC To End Of 2014

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Phil Roeder, via FlickrThe US Senate voted Tuesday to extend the Production Tax Credit for the US wind industry for another year. Sadly, for the wind industry, Congress has been debating this so long that “another year” finishes at the end of 2014.

“Unfortunately, the extension to the end of 2014 will only allow minimal new wind development and it will have expired again by the time the new Congress convenes,” said Tom Kiernan, CEO of American Wind Energy Association.

The Senate voted 76–16 on a one-year extension of 55 tax policies including the renewable energy Production Tax Credit (PTC) and Investment Tax Credit (ITC), after the House of Representatives voted 378-46 on December 3.

The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) had been lobbying hard for a 2-year extension so that the PTC and ITC would be carried through to the end of 2015, allowing developers to launch more products — a process it says can take anywhere from 18 to 24 months.

“The inclusion in this year’s tax extenders bill is a reflection of the continued bipartisan support for wind energy,” said Kiernan. “But when the 114th Congress begins, clean energy incentives will already be expired. There will be a lot of work to do as soon as possible in the new year to keep this important sector of the economy growing by providing longer term policy support.”

“These common-sense policies have succeeded in attracting an average of $17 billion a year of private investment in the U.S. economy,” added Kiernan. “American workers can make more of our own energy right here at home, but Congress must listen to the overwhelming majority of American voters who want these policies to continue.”

President Obama is expected to sign the bill sometime this week.

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14 thoughts on “US Congress Extends Wind PTC To End Of 2014

  • Its Dec 18th and they extended it until the end of 2014? WTF, that is less than 2 weeks. Is that as a spit in the eye?

    • They’ve been very busy repealing the Affordable Care Act 40-odd times, it doesn’t leave much time for less-important bills like a budget…

      Hopefully onshore wind is at a cost now where the PTC is largely irrelevant in terms of making or breaking the viability of projects.

      • Wind can be viable and profitable without or with the tax and production credits. But with the variability of policy there are delays in investment to make these projects happen. The people with the money have no problem waiting for a year or two or more to see if policies will allow slightly higher margins.
        It has been seen through the years how the changing of policies has slowed the development of wind in the US as compared to other countries with more stable regulations.
        So if you want to believe in conspiracy theories it is quite easy to think that the fossil fuel companies have done what they can to influence this variability in order to secure the longer term use of their own products although they realize totally stopping the credits goes against majority opinion.
        Not saying that this is true, but it is easy to get that impression from what has happened through the years.

        • Agreed
          Imagine if oil had all their tax breaks held up year to year!

          • Over the first 15 years of these energy sources’ subsidies, oil and gas received 5 times what renewables got (in 2010 dollars) and nuclear energy got 10 times as much. (Most of the renewable subsidies went to corn farms for ethanol, not wind, solar and other renewable electricity technologies.)

            Between 1918 and 2009 oil and gas received average annual subsidies of $4.86 billion. (92 x $4.86 billion = $447 billion)

            Between 1947 and 1999 nuclear received average annual subsidies of $3.50 billion. (53 x $3.50 billion = $185.6 billion)

            Between 1980 and 2009 biofuel received average annual subsidies of $1.08 billion. (29 x $1.08 billion = $31 billion)

            Between 1994 and 2009 renewables received average annual subsidies of $0.37 billion. (15 x $0.37 = $5.6 billion)


          • The analysis does include indirect or implicit subsidies such as loan guarantees or government acting as insurer of last resort though. Those only become ‘real’ subsidies if the receiver encounters a default or catastrophic accident.

            For renewables, only direct subsidies are included. For a fair comparison, the figure should also include indirect subsidies. A renewable portfolio standard, for example, isn’t a subsidy in the classical sense of the word, but does favor one source of generation over another (much like cheap credit does for the nuclear industry.

            There’s little reason to assume renewables are underfunded. Support for them, however, is far too uncertain. Whereas subsidies for nuclear and FF are steady, certain things, renewables have to live from paycheck to paycheck.

            That uncertainty does more harm than any level of subsidy for renewable’s competitors. If there’s anything investors in capital-intensive businesses like energy generation hate, it’s uncertain returns.

          • It doesn’t include the external costs as well. We’ve spent trillions of dollars to deal with the health costs created by coal and oil emissions. Coal costs US taxpayers between $140 billion and $242 billion each year. That’s $1.4 trillion dollars a decade, at the minimum. We’ve been burning coal for 100 years.

            We’ve spent trillions on oil wars.

            We have a rarely acknowledged problem of abandoned uranium mines. There are somewhere around 15,000 mines which will have to be cleaned up at taxpayer expense.

            Wind and solar are not underfunded. That is obvious – look at how their prices have fallen. We (and other countries) have installed wind and solar enough to bring down their prices. And it took only a tiny percentage of the subsidy we’ve given nuclear and fossil fuels, whose prices have remained high. And risen.

            We have badly hurt the wind industry by creating uncertainty. A three week subsidy window for 2014 in which to get new projects underway? A fucking joke.

            It’s time for American taxpayers to get wise to the vast amount of money we’re spending to prop up energy systems which have run their course.

            It’s time to cut our losses. Either make nuclear and fossil fuels start paying for their external costs or even the playing field with further subsidies for wind and solar so that we can get clean energy on our grids and cut our external cost expenses.

          • True, externalities aren’t included either – perhaps for the best, since those are impossible to calculate (though some decent guesstimates exist).

            What ‘oil wars’? You mean that one in Iraq, that barely benefited American oil companies except for some minor fields in Kurdistan still stuck in development? Or the one in Afghanistan, a country devoid of hydrocarbons? Vietnam, that notorious playground for oil barons?

            The last country the US attacked that had significant oil reserves where the Barbary States (present day Algeria), and that was decades before the invention of the oil industry.

            As for abandoned uranium mines: few, if any, pose any health risks. Uranium mill tailings are far more problematic, but those sites number a few dozens rather than ‘15.000’ with only 22 being identified as being potentially dangerous.

            The 15000 figure is plain wrong by the way. There are ‘only’ 4000 sites where mining took place. The 15000 is a figure that refers to sites that contain significant uranium levels – most of those are ordinary mines that just happen to be sited in areas of high natural uranium occurrence.

            No argument about your conclusions though. All sources of energy currently receive subsidies to various degrees. That needs to be stressed more, and preferably not in the hysterical and often counterfactual way the green movement tends to do it.

            As for your last paragraph: you can leave nuclear out in most of the world. The only significant externality of nuclear power is waste disposal and that is paid for entirely by plant operators in most of the world. FF, on the other hand, gets a free ride.

          • The First Gulf War was fought to keep Kuwait oil out of Iraqi hands. The Afghanistan and Second Gulf War were products of that war.

            Only 22 abandoned mines have been found to be potentially dangerous to human health. We haven’t evaluated that many mines yet. We haven’t even found them all.

            But, OK, let’s not worry. The atom is our friend. Let’s welcome nuclear energy with open arms and not talk about the problematic issues. Heck, nuclear reactors rarely melt down, so let’s not worry our beautiful minds with small details.

            Let the people hundreds and thousands of years from now deal with our nuclear wastes. I’m sure the money we put in trust accounts to pay for the continued care of hazardous wastes will still be there and producing revenue.

          • Ooo-weee, Bob! SNAP!

          • See my comment above. The 22 mines is definitely incorrect. The total number is also way more than 25,000. Thats 25,000 known and documented. The estimate is 500,000. The quote says it all. No uranium mine is a walk in the park. Thats impossible. Here is an example from a Scientific American article.


            “Instead, EPA contractors assessed the site November 9. A scientist who participated wouldn’t discuss what he found without EPA officials present, and agency officials couldn’t be reached for comment. However, Lee Greer, a biologist from La Sierra University in Riverside, Calif., was part of a conference call about the assessment’s results. Greer has been working with Forgotten People to record radiation levels at sites that interest the advocacy group. He said the EPA contractors found radiation levels at the mine that were higher than the EPA’s Geiger counters could measure.”

            Higher than they could measure?

            “The mines expose Navajo Nation residents to uranium through airborne dust and contaminated drinking water. Many residents’ homes were built using mud and rocks near mines, and some of that building material is radioactive. There are few published studies on the effects of uranium mines on nearby residents, but researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the University of New Mexico are working on health assessments, according to EPA officials. Researchers have known for decades that uranium exposure increases the risk of lung and bone cancers and kidney damage.”

            Uranium mining is the dark underside of nuclear energy no one wants to talk about.

            Its a little known, understudied topic. We know of dangers and we know of impacts in some cases, like the Navaho miners impacted by radon. But for the most part we are ignorant. You don’t see what you don’t look for.

          • Its actually an extremely serious overlooked problem. The remediation of the abandoned Atlas Mines is going to take an estimated 1 billion dollars. Thats one mine. Thats a lot of money for remediation. The nuclear industry is not paying a cent of it. We are. We don’t even know where all the abandoned mines are. The threat to the environment is serious enough to stimulate Congressional action in response. And the EPA and other agencies are charged with finding, assessing, and overseeing the restoration of these lands. Any way you look at it, its a big deal. There is a government website devoted to this.


            “Abandoned mine lands (AMLs) present serious threats to human health and the environment. Addressing AML impacts is becoming increasingly important due to increased exposure to people and risks of accidents, injuries, and tort claims. There are estimates of as many as 500,000 abandoned mines in our nation.”

          • Don’t forget that Saudi Arabia was attacked and at risk. That was Saddam Husseins goal. That would definitely had been a larger deal and is much more pertinent to why we engaged in two Gulf wars. It was to protect our oil interests. Kuwait and even Iraq are more like buffer zones to protect our interest in Saudi Arabia.

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