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Wind-energy credit gives industry stability

A recently passed federal omnibus spending bill has good news for some groups including those who work in the wind energy industry.

When President Obama signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016 into law Dec. 18, he signed into law all the amendments and special provisions. Those provisions include an extension of wind and other renewable energy credits.

This is good news for management at companies at TPI Composites, Inc., and, indirectly, all of its 900 employees. The stability created through government programs designed to foster growth of an industry says TPI representative Cleo Boyd, are essential to being able to proceed knowing incentives are in place to keep the industry moving forward.

“We have 665 direct-labor associates and approximately 200 support, administrative and management associates,” Boyd said. “Anything that can help the industry expand is good for our work force.”

In addition to wind facilities and solar projects, the Act also extended for two years (i.e., for facilities with respect to which construction commenced in 2015 and 2016) the production tax credit and the election to receive the investment tax credit for a number of “green” energy production types.

In an effort to pass an omnibus spending bill right before adjourning for the calendar year, Congress’ votes on the package weren’t close. The House approved the main bill by a 255-163 vote; the Senate only took into consideration a handful of amendments, with the closest approval happening by a 65-33 margin.

U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack, the lone Iowa Democrat in the 114th Congress, voted against the main passage of the bill. However, there were several carefully worded amendments, especially on the House version.

Related: A state-by-state look at renewable energy requirements

The wind industry has enjoyed a federal production tax credit of 2.3 cents per kilowatt hour. An extension keeps in place tax breaks that don’t please all legislators, but the credit should also attract billions in investments into the clean-energy sector.

American Wind Energy Association CEO Tom Kiernan said stability in policies will give the industry and investors a window to make big strides in wind turbine technology.

“We’re going to keep this American wind power success story going,” Kiernan said. “With predictable policies now in place, we will continue advancing wind turbine technology, driving down our costs and passing the savings on to American families and businesses in all corners of the country. We look forward to building a future with more affordable, reliable, clean wind energy.”

The credit extension is also expected to provide a nice bridge into the Clean Power Plan which will limit emissions from electric utilities over time. It fits well with the EPA’s Clean Power Plan deadlines of 2022, which require utility sector carbon emissions to come down by 2030 to levels that are between 32 percent and 47 percent lower than in 2005.

The credit has in place more multi-year plans than the previous one-year extensions approved by Congress and the president. The extension will provide for 100 percent of the value of the credit in 2015 and 2016, then 80 percent in 2017, 60 percent in 2018, and 40 percent in 2019 for projects that start construction in those years.

Frank Liebl, executive director of the Newton Development Corporation, said he’s happy about the long-term element.

“The wind industry did receive good news about the production tax credits,” Liebl said. “I was notified by the American Wind Energy Association that the president signed the bill. The NDC has worked with AWEA for years. Whenever they need a letter or an e-mail from us, we send it immediately to both the Senate and House, so to see the wind energy finally got better than a ‘year’ of PTC credits is indeed good news.”

(c)2015 the Newton Daily News (Newton, Iowa)

This article was written by Jason W. Brooks from Newton Daily News, Iowa and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.