Fiscal Cliff Deal Extends Tax Credits for Wind and Other Renewables

President Barack Obama has signed the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, which averted the fiscal cliff while keeping income taxes low for the middle class and raising rates on the rich. The act also includes tax-credit extensions for wind energy and biodiesel, cellulosic ethanol and electric vehicles, and energy-efficient new homes and appliances.

Uncertainty about extension of the tax credit had caused thousands of layoffs in the wind-energy industry the past several months. The extensions cover all wind projects that start construction in 2013.

Wind set a new record in 2012 by installing 44 percent of all new electrical-generating capacity in America, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, Washington, D.C. Wind led the electric sector compared with 30 percent for natural gas and lesser amounts for coal and other sources.

Uncertain federal policies have caused a “boom-bust” cycle in U.S. wind-energy development for more than a decade as each year the question of the tax-credit extension arises. In the closing days of the lame duck session of Congress, wind-energy workers posted videos to tell their stories about working in the industry. The 2,000 companies that belong to Washington-based American Wind Energy Association also sent delegations to Capitol Hill, invited members of Congress on tours of wind farms and factories, and delivered hundreds of thousands of letters from constituents.

“We are pleased this latest barrier to protecting clean-energy jobs in America has been overcome, and we will continue our work to ensure that our nation creates jobs and a secure climate future with clean energy,” says Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, San Francisco.

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