The federal Production Tax Credit, which was enacted in 1992, gives wind power generators 2.2 cents for every kilowatt hour they produce. Uncertainty over the future of the credit and competition from the falling price of natural gas have industry representatives and lawmakers predicting significant setbacks to the wind power industry.
According to Sebastian, "a coalition of 18 freshman legislators - including Republicans from the heartland and Democrats from the Northeast - wrote to congressional leaders last month urging them to bring an extension of the credit up for vote."
"More than half the jobs in the industry are expected to be gone by this time next year if the PTC is not extended," the lawmakers wrote. "It would be a disservice to our country's energy security to let an industry that has come so far suffer such a setback."
"Many supporters are optimistic that the credit will be renewed," writes Sebastian, "but doubt it will happen before the November election. And a last-minute deal probably won't prevent mass casualties for the U.S. wind power business."
"Most of the damage has already been done," said Matt DaPrato, senior analyst for IHS Emerging Energy Research. "There's going to be a big drop-off in 2013 either way."