Finance votes to restore wind tax credit

The Senate Finance Committee approved Thursday a package of tax break extensions that restores the production tax credit (PTC) for wind energy, which expired in 2013.

The committee voted by voice vote to send the bill to the full Senate. It would extend the PTC for two years, along with numerous provisions that incentivize alternative fuels and energy efficiency for vehicles and homes.

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Senators who support the wind industry thanked Chairman Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenPrediction: 2020 election is set to be hacked, if we don't act fast Wyden blasts FEC Republicans for blocking probe into NRA over possible Russia donations Wyden calls for end to political ad targeting on Facebook, Google MORE (D-Ore.) and ranking member Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchTrump to award racing legend Roger Penske with Presidential Medal of Freedom Trump awards Presidential Medal of Freedom to economist, former Reagan adviser Arthur Laffer Second ex-Senate staffer charged in aiding doxxing of GOP senators MORE (R-Utah) for including the wind credit in the bill that the committee marked up Thursday after excluding it from the draft unveiled Tuesday.

“This is vitally important to Colorado,” said Sen. Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetSanders doubles down on 'Medicare For All' defense: 'We have not changed one word' Democratic candidates face hard choices as 2020 field winnows The Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch MORE (D-Colo.), who sponsored an amendment to include the credit. “We’ve got upwards of 5,000 jobs in our state” from the wind industry, he said.

Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyThe road not taken: Another FBI failure involving the Clintons surfaces White House denies exploring payroll tax cut to offset worsening economy Schumer joins Pelosi in opposition to post-Brexit trade deal that risks Northern Ireland accord MORE (R-Iowa) said Congress has already harmed the wind industry by allowing the PTC to expire last year and that the harm would continue if it is not extended.

“The uncertainty it creates for the renewable industry has slowed growth in this sector,” Grassley said. “This serves only to hamper the strides made towards a viable, self-sustainable renewable energy and fuels sector.”

The panel rejected an amendment proposed by Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) that would have stripped the bill of all provisions that incentivize alternative energy, including the PTC and credits for biofuel, electric vehicles, alternative fuel vehicle infrastructure and fuel cell technology.

“I don’t think we should force taxpayers to subsidize inefficient, uncompetitive forms of energy,” Toomey said. “We are simply picking winners and losers.”

Toomey said that he did not oppose alternative fuels, but he thinks "they ought to compete on a level playing field.”

Grassley defended the credits, saying that it would be fair to give alternative energy sources credits similar to the ones that traditional energy receives.

“The 100-year-old oil and gas industry continues to benefit from tax preferences that benefit only their industry,” he said.

Sen. Debbie StabenowDeborah (Debbie) Ann StabenowUSDA cuts payments promised to researchers as agency uproots to Kansas City USDA eases relocation timeline as researchers flee agency USDA office move may have broken law, watchdog says MORE (D-Mich.) agreed with Grassley: “I would argue that Congress has picked a winner in the oil industry, and they have won.”

A number of energy-related amendments were either withdrawn or blocked by Wyden because they were not related to a bill extending expired tax provisions.

Those amendments would have allowed faster tax credits for solar energy and offshore wind energy infrastructure while they are being built, changing the fuel tax structure for liquefied natural gas and phasing the wind credit out over five years.