Geothermal, wind get one-year reprieve in fiscal cliff deal

| by Teena Hammond
Geothermal, wind get one-year reprieve in fiscal cliff deal

This week's fiscal cliff decision by Congress led to important clean energy decisions. The most notable was the one-year extension of the wind power production tax credit (PTC) that applies to wind and geothermal projects. 

Also extended are the Investment Tax Credits used for community and offshore wind projects, with all projects that start construction in 2013 receiving the credits. The move is expected to save up to 37,000 jobs and create more over time, and to revive business at nearly 500 manufacturing plants across the country.  

Wind set a record for new installations in 2012, accounting for 44 percent of all new electrical generating capacity in America, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Without the PTC, that wouldn't have happened.

There is now about 50 gigawatts of wind energy on the U.S. grid, which is enough for about 13 million homes, compared with just 1.5 GW when the credit was originally introduced.

Wind energy workers have been living under threat of the PTC's expiration for over a year and some projects had already been cancelled and workers laid off.  

The US Department of Energy projects that wind energy can supply 20 percent of U.S. electricity by 2030, which would support  500,000 high quality jobs.

Here's a full statement from the Geothermal Energy Association (GEA) on the extension:

"The Geothermal Energy Association applauds Congress for adopting today, as part of bi-partisan tax legislation, important changes in the underlying terms of the federal tax incentives for new geothermal and other renewable power projects. The modification adopted, which allows projects to qualify for the production tax credit based upon being under construction, represents an approach to renewable tax incentives that will work more effectively for geothermal and other renewable power technologies that have longer development lead times.

"The Geothermal Energy Association estimates that new geothermal power projects in as many as a dozen states could be stimulated to move forward this year as a result of this change," said GEA Executive Director Karl Gawell. "Congress' action will spur significant new employment and sustain geothermal industry growth. Consumers and utilities will benefit, as well, because developers will have greater certainty about whether the credit will be available for their project."

Gawell continued, "We applaud the support demonstrated by Congress and the Administration for policies to support growth in geothermal power, and look forward to working with both as they examine longer-term policies to sustain innovation and growth in this emerging industry. In particular we wish to applaud the Senate Finance Committee and Senate Leadership for initiating this important change in the Production Tax Credit."

Topics: Geothermal Heating & Cooling, Wind Power

Teena Hammond
Teena Hammond has published more than 2,000 articles in People and W magazines, Women's Wear Daily, and in dozens of newspapers and books. She also wrote a home improvement, remodeling and decor column that ran in Gannett newspapers nationwide. She's interested in all things green and would love to hear from you with your story ideas.

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