Tax Breaks Could Provide Windfall for Alternative-energy Industry
Sep. 25The wind energy industry is expected to exit its funk now that Congress has passed a tax bill that includes an extension of wind-power incentives through next year.
The industry had furloughed hundreds of workers and halted projects since the so-called production tax credit expired at the end of last year.
The measure, which cleared the U.S. House and Senate late Thursday, provides a subsidy of 1.8 cents per kilowatt-hour of electricity produced from wind projects. The provision, which includes other renewable energy sources, is expected to cost $44 million in 2005.
Industry officials say the subsidies have been critical to stimulating investment in the nascent field. Texas, the nation's No. 2 producer of wind power after California, is home to some of the nation's top wind project developers and equipment-makers.
Wind power accounts for less than 1 percent of U.S. electricity. But as other energy sources such as oil and natural gas have become increasingly expensive and scarce, 17 states have adopted measures to require that more of their electricity be generated from pollution-free sources such as wind.
The tax credit has traditionally received wide bipartisan support, but its fate had been tied up in the federal energy bill that shows no signs of clearing Congress.
The wind energy association estimated that $2 billion in investments were put on hold once the tax credit lapsed Dec. 31.
The measure, which extends the tax provision through 2005, was inserted into the $146 billion tax package that will extend middle-class tax cuts and a variety of other tax breaks for businesses.
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