Wind energy tax credits survive as Congress passes fiscal cliff deal

The wind energy industry in the U.S. breathed a sigh of relief as Congress passed a fiscal cliff deal on Tuesday that included an extension of the wind energy tax credits for wind projects that start in 2013. The wind energy tax credits — which began in the early 1990s but have expired at least three times over the years — were set to expire at the end of 2012, and if expired, would have frozen wind project construction in the U.S.

The American Wind Energy Association says that the extension of the credits will save 37,000 jobs and revive business at 500 wind factories. However, the boom and bust cycle will still have an effect on the wind industry, as “layoffs had already begun, as companies idled factories because of a lack of orders for 2013,” says the AWEA.

The New York Times recently reported that the credits could provide a 2.2 cent tax credit for each kilowatt-hour generated by a wind project in the first 10 years, or a payment of 30 percent of the construction cost. The tax credits led to a boom in wind power in 2012, and new wind power installations represented 44 percent of all new electricity capacity created in the U.S. in 2012, according to the Energy Information Administration.

President Obama says he plans to sign the legislation shortly.