By Ari Natter
Dec. 3 — The House voted Dec. 3 to pass tax legislation that would only extend the wind production tax credit and other energy incentives through the end of 2014, a move that clean energy advocates said would result in lost jobs and halt new projects.
The $42 billion bill (H.R. 5771) also would retroactively extend other energy tax credits that expired at the end of 2013, including a $1 per-gallon credit for biodiesel and renewable fuel, as well as credits for cellulosic biofuel makers and certain energy efficiency improvements.
The House passed the bill by a vote of 378-46. An amendment from Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.) to extend a tax credit for natural gas and other alternative fuel gas stations was incorporated into the bill and “considered as adopted” by the House Rules Committee Dec. 2.
The legislation would extend nearly $10 billion in energy tax credits, with the extension of the 2.3-cent per-kilowatt-hour wind production tax credit making up the bulk of the energy spending with an estimated cost of nearly $6.4 billion, according to a bill summary.
Still, the House move drew criticism from the wind industry and environmental advocates, who said the industry needs a multi-year extension, such as the three-year phaseout that was suggested as part of a Senate tax extenders deal the week of Nov. 24.
“The three-week extension being considered by the House does not provide the certainty and stability needed to keep U.S. factories open and keep workers on the job,” Tom Kiernan, chief executive officer of the American Wind Energy Association, said in a statement.
When the production tax credit expired in 2013, new wind installations came to a halt, resulting in a 92 percent drop in new wind projects compared to 2012 and a $23 billion drop in private investment in the U.S. economy, according to AWEA, which represents companies such as GE Energy and Florida-based wind farm developer NextEra Energy Inc.
“Businesses and investors need stable tax policy to create jobs, innovate, invest capital and deploy pollution-reducing energy technologies,” the Sierra Club and other environmental groups said in a letter to lawmakers Dec. 2.
Meanwhile, groups such as Americans for Prosperity and the fossil-fuel backed American Energy Association urged lawmakers to vote against the bill because it contained any extension of the PTC.
“A one-year extension is an early Christmas present from the House Republicans to big wind manufacturers like GE and a number of foreign-owned companies,” Thomas Pyle, president of the American Energy Alliance, said in a statement.
A Senate tax extenders deal, which was never publicly unveiled and which would have phased the credit out over multiple years, fell apart after the White House threatened to veto the bill over unrelated matters.
While Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said he is still negotiating to bring a two-year tax extenders bill to the floor, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said he doubts that a two-year bill would become law.
“I think it's going to come down to when the House sends the bill over and if we take it or leave it,” Hatch told reporters. “It's mind boggling to me the president throws out a veto charge while negotiations are going on and the bill isn't even in existence.”
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