Wind power credit stalls in Senate, again

Another attempt to extend a tax credit that helps keep wind turbines turning in Colorado and beyond failed in the Senate on Tuesday.

National Wind Technology Center turbines near Golden. (Photo by Troy Hooper)
The wind energy production tax credit (PTC) was wrapped into a compromise transportation package featuring 20 amendments that would have awarded breaks for energy efficient homes, biofuels and other measures sponsored by Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich. The package, which needed 60 votes to pass, failed by a vote of 49-49.

U.S. Senator Michael Bennet, D-Colorado, said the state stands “to suffer a huge economic blow if Congress can’t get its act together and extend this critical tax credit. With thousands of high-quality jobs at stake across our state and the entire country, we need to provide certainty for this industry, so we do not derail its current growth,” he said.

There are more than 5,000 wind industry jobs in Colorado, according to Interwest Energy Alliance, and the state is the nation’s eighth-largest generator of wind power and hosts the world’s leading national laboratory in wind and other renewable energy technologies.

If the tax credit expires at the end of the year, the state’s wind energy sector could crash.

“In fact, a crash is already beginning,” Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colorado, said in a prepared statement. “Vestas may lay off more than 80 percent of its workforce in Colorado if the PTC is not extended soon. I’m fighting every day for this extension, and we need to do it now. This isn’t something we can afford to put on the backburner until the last minute.”

All of Colorado’s congressional delegation except Republican Congressman Doug Lamborn say they want to extend the wind tax credit, which debuted in 1992. The credit could still be tied to other bills or come as stand-alone legislation. It has lapsed in the past only to be resurrected later.

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