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Congress extends wind tax credits through 2013

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As part of the Jan. 1 "fiscal cliff" deal, Congress extended wind energy tax credits through 2013.

"America's 75,000 workers in wind energy are celebrating tonight over the continuation of policies expected to save up to 37,000 jobs and create far more over time, and to revive business at nearly 500 manufacturing facilities across the country," the American Wind Energy Association wrote in a media release.

"The extension of the wind energy Production Tax Credit … and Investment Tax Credits for community and offshore projects will allow continued growth of the energy source that installed the most new electrical generating capacity in America last year, with factories or wind farms in all 50 states."

Any wind project that starts construction in 2013 — it doesn't have to begin producing energy in 2013 — would be eligible for the tax credits. That makes the single-year extension useful even though wind power plants take 18 to 24 months to develop, the trade group said.

Repeated expirations of the production tax credit since it was first established in 1992 have created a boom-bust cycle in the industry. With the threat of expiration again in 2012, companies in the supply chain laid off workers and idled factories due to a lack of orders for 2013, the AWEA said.

Some oppose the tax credit for fiscal reasons; others oppose it because they oppose wind plants as inefficient, unsightly or undesirable for other reasons.

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