Wind Companies Scramble to Secure Tax Credit Before Expiration

The expiration of the wind Production Tax Credit has already become a certainty, leaving many in the industry racing against time in recent weeks to make sure they qualify.

Projects have to be initiated before Jan. 1. As a result, companies are working around the clock to secure deals with turbine manufacturers and farm developers to get a credit.

“What we see right now is a race to the finish line, where we’re trying to get projects signed,” Mark Albenze, chief executive of the Wind Power Americas unit of Siemens Energy, told The New York Times. “It’s a little bit of a different dynamic, whereas in ’12 our projects teams were the ones stressing out in December and now it’s our acquisition team.”

Siemens sold 448 turbines to MidAmerican Energy two weeks ago, in what was the world's largest order for onshore wind projects. MidAmerican will use the turbines for five different projects in Iowa.

MidAmerican Energy completed the world's largest order of wind turbines for an onshore project—448 turbines from Siemens. The company qualified for the soon-to-expire wind PTC in the process. Photo credit: MidAmerican Energy

Companies like the Warren Buffett-owned MidAmerican that made the cut qualify for 2.3 cents a kilowatt-hour for the first 10 years of production. Others will have to hold out for a temporary or permanent extension. Governors, senators and groups like the American Wind Energy Association fought for an extension, but Congress remained gridlocked before holiday vacation. It remains unseen if the tax credit will get an extension shortly after New Year's like it did after a brief ending at the end of 2012.

The wind PTC is one of 31 energy policies that U.S. Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus has proposed consolidating into one of two new tax credits in 2017. 

“In the near term, projects that do not have the PTC attached to them are probably difficult to justify economically for buyers to purchase, and therefore for us to build," said Kevin A. Lynch, managing director of external affairs at Iberdrola Renewables. “Wind has clearly become a very competitive generation source, and I do have to say we’re pretty confident that the president and the Congress will see their way to extending the credit."

President Barack Obama nominated Baucus to serve as ambassador to China. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), the likely Senate finance committee chairman successor, favors comprehensive reform of the tax code, but said he won't "support just letting renewables just fall off a cliff.”

“It’s the same old story—it’s just another 365 days later,” said Paul J. Gaynor, chief executive of Boston-based First Wind.

Michael Garland, chief executive of Pattern Energy, told The New York Times that many companies are in a scramble, ordering wind turbines before securing building permits or beginning construction while power contracts are still being negotiated. On the spectrum's other end, Vestas has been riding equipment orders for projects in Texas and Oklahoma all the way to what should its second-highest peak in sales since entering the U.S. and Canadian markets in 1981.

“There’s a lot of risk on it that you have to take in order to put that kind of money out,” Gaynor said. “That’s what everybody’s running around trying to figure out what to do.”

Visit EcoWatch’s RENEWABLES page for more related news on this topic.

Show Comments ()
Solar shade canopies. University of Hawaii

This College Could Become the First 100% Renewable Campus in U.S.

As a growing number of U.S. cities make pledges towards 100 percent renewables, it's easy to forget that the entire state of Hawaii set this important benchmark three years ago when it mandated that all of its electricity must come from renewable sources no later than 2045.

To help the Aloha State meet this ambitious commitment, in 2015, the University of Hawaii (UH) and the Hawaiian Legislature set a collective goal for the university system to be "net-zero" by Jan. 1, 2035, which means the total amount of energy consumed is equal to the amount of renewable energy created.

Keep reading... Show less

Silver Nanoparticles in Clothing Wash Out, May Be Toxic

By Sukalyan Sengupta and Tabish Nawaz

Humans have known since ancient times that silver kills or stops the growth of many microorganisms. Hippocrates, the father of medicine, is said to have used silver preparations for treating ulcers and healing wounds. Until the introduction of antibiotics in the 1940s, colloidal silver (tiny particles suspended in a liquid) was a mainstay for treating burns, infected wounds and ulcers. Silver is still used today in wound dressings, in creams and as a coating on medical devices.

Keep reading... Show less
4.4 million premature air pollution deaths could be avoided in Kolkata if emissions are reduced swiftly this century. M M / CC BY-SA 2.0

Study Finds Timely Emissions Reductions Could Prevent 153 Million Air Pollution Deaths This Century

One of the roadblocks to swift action on climate change is the human brain's tendency to focus on threats and stimuli that are an obvious and noticeable part of their everyday lives, rather than an abstract and future problem, as Amit Dhir explained in The Decision Lab.

Now, a study published in Nature Climate Change Monday shows that acting quickly to curb greenhouse gas emissions would also reduce the air pollution that is already a major urban killer, thereby saving millions of lives within the next 40 years.

Keep reading... Show less
Lands threatened by BLM's March 2018 sale include Hatch Point. Neal Clark / SUWA

Trump Administration Sells Oil and Gas Leases Near Utah National Monuments

The Interior Department on Tuesday is auctioning off 32 parcels of public lands in southeastern Utah for oil and gas development.

The Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) lease sale includes more than 51,000 acres of land near Bears Ears—the national monument significantly scaled back by the Trump administration last year—as well as the Hovenweep and Canyons of the Ancients monuments.

Keep reading... Show less
Katharine Hayhoe talks climate communication hacks at the Natural Products Expo West Convention. Climate Collaborative

Katharine Hayhoe Reveals Surprising Ways to Talk About Climate Change

By Katie O'Reilly

Katharine Hayhoe isn't your typical atmospheric scientist. Throughout her career, the evangelical Christian and daughter of missionaries has had to convince many (including her pastor husband) that science and religion need not be at odds when it comes to climate change. Hayhoe, who directs Texas Tech's University's Climate Science Center, is CEO of ATMOS Research, a scientific consulting company, and produces the PBS Kids' web series Global Weirding, rose to national prominence in early 2012 after then-presidential candidate Newt Gingrich dropped her chapter from a book he was editing about the environment. The reason? Hayhoe's arguments affirmed that climate change was no liberal hoax. The Toronto native attracted the fury of Rush Limbaugh, who encouraged his listeners to harass her.

Keep reading... Show less
Rising Tide NA / Twitter

Kinder Morgan Pipeline Protest Grows: Arrests Include a Greenpeace Founder, Juno-Nominated Grandfather

By Andy Rowell

Just because you get older, it doesn't mean you cannot stop taking action for what you believe in. And Monday was a case in point. Two seventy-year-olds, still putting their bodies on the line for environmental justice and indigenous rights.

Early Monday morning, the first seventy-year-old, a grandfather of two, and former nominee for Canada's Juno musical award, slipped into Kinder Morgan's compound at one of its sites for the controversial Trans Mountain pipeline and scaled a tree and then erected a mid-air platform with a hammock up in the air.

Keep reading... Show less

The Grapes of Trash

By Marlene Cimons

German monk and theologian Martin Luther probably said it best: "Beer is made by men, wine by God." It's true—the world loves its wine. Americans, in fact, downed close to a billion gallons of it in 2016. But winemakers create a lot of waste when they produce all that vino, most of it in seeds, stalks and skins.

Keep reading... Show less

Why Mike Pompeo Could Be Even Worse for the Environment Than Rex Tillerson

By Kelle Louaillier

As Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson was one of the most blatant revolving-door cases in the Trump administration and a clear sign that Trump's government was of, by and for the fossil fuel industry. But make no mistake: Mike Pompeo could be far worse.

Keep reading... Show less


The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!