Senate and House negotiators have added a one-year extension of the federal tax credit for wind-power manufacturers to the tax-andspending deal Monday that lawmakers hoped would keep the federal budget from going over the "fiscal cliff" of automatic higher taxes and spending cuts.
The wind-power credit has been dangling all year -- caught in the political crossfire between House Republicans and Senate Democrats and then the fight for the White House. Vestas and other windturbine manufacturers have been laying off workers this fall as they warned would happen if Congress did not extend the 20-year-old tax credit. It was unknown whether in the lastminute wrangling over raising tax rates, House and Senate negotiators also would include tax credit extensions for some key industries, such as wind-power manufacturers. But President Barack Obama made it clear in a speech Monday that he expected a final deal to include the muchsought- after Production Tax Credit for the wind industry.
It's estimated that Vestas has laid off about 500 of its 1,800 workers in Colorado, including about one-quarter of its 450 employees at its Pueblo tower plant.
Colorado Sens. Mark Udall and Michael Bennet, both Democrats, were among those who repeatedly tried to get the credit attached to several Senate bills this year. Opponents, primarily Republicans, voiced the opposition from major oil companies that wind power was too expensive to be selfsustaining.
House Republican leaders never included the PTC in their budget plans, although individual lawmakers such as Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Colo., support it. The fate of the PTC even surfaced in the fight over the White House with Obama supporting it while Republican challenger Mitt Romney opposed it. As Democrat and Republican negotiators kept working on a last-minute budget deal Monday, the PTC surfaced as one tax credit that negotiators wanted in the deal.
A spokesman for Tipton repeated his support for the credit Monday, but added: "Until there's a final plan, it remains to be seen what the negotiations to avert the fiscal cliff will yield."
Udall, who has given 28 floor speeches in support of the PTC, was similarly hopeful the tax credit's fate this week.
"Senator Udall is committed to extending the PTC as soon as possible in 2013 if it is not part of a deal," a spokesman said Monday afternoon.
Distributed by MCT Information Services
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