The Hemp Connoisseur, July 2014 - Issue #19

Page 34

Gone With The Wind?

Congress Fails To Pass Tax Credits Extension by Skyler Cannabaceae

Wind power advocates were down but not defeated when the Expiring Provisions, Improvements, Reform and Efficiency (EXPIRE) Act suffered a setback in the U.S. Senate earlier this year. A vote for consideration of the bill fell seven votes short of the necessary 60 to end debate and force action. “This bipartisan idea - born on the plains and thriving across the country - is too important to fall victim to partisan games and procedural gambits. I will keep fighting to ensure our wind energy manufacturers and the middle-class families they support have the certainty they need to thrive,” Mark Udall, the senior U.S. Senator for Colorado said in a statement. Udall is a strong supporter of wind energy in Colorado. He made 27 floor speeches in 2012 in support of the tax credits and helped to extend them until the end of 2013. He extolled the benefits of the bill, especially the Production Tax Credit the industry holds dear. “The Production Tax Credit for wind energy is a smart investment in our economy that strengthens our energy security, supports a strong Colorado industry and creates good-paying manufacturing jobs,” he said. The bill would have renewed the wind Production Tax Credit (PTC) and the Investment Tax Credit (ITC), both of which are tax relief measures to help fund wind power and research. The tax credits received strong support from both of Colorado’s senators. Senator Mike Bennett lamented the defeat in a statement: “This is yet another example of Washington not doing the work that Coloradans and the American people expect us to do. This tax extenders bill was approved by the Senate Finance Committee with strong bipartisan support. Coloradans and the American people deserve better.” The PTC lets taxpayers claim a tax credit equivalent to 2.3 cents per kilowatt

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hour produced for a 10-year period, while the ITC offers the option of taking a 30-percent investment tax credit instead. Under the terms of the EXPIRE Act, the credits would have been extended through the end of 2015. As it stands now, the credits are in limbo; still being considered, but officially expired and only able to be used for tax years before 2014. Bennett pointed out that the tax credits are a great benefit to the Colorado renewable energy industry and that there were economic repercussions when they previously expired that hurt the growth of the wind power industry. He quoted statistics showing that as many as 37,000 people will lose their jobs nationally if the credit permanently expires, including 5,000 employed in this state. Colorado is number six in the nation for percentage of power produced by wind. Both senators issued statements encouraging their colleagues to support the measure two days before the vote. The bill needed 60 votes to continue in the Senate, but only received 53, with 40 votes against, mostly along party lines. Only one Republican, Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois, voted with Democrats in favor of an up-or-down vote. Bennett worked with Udall and used his seat on the Senate Finance Committee to include the wind PTC extension that would keep it in place until 2016. Bennett said that the jobs created by the credit gave a boost to the state’s economy “and a two-year extension will provide much-needed certainty to this growing industry.” The tax-extenders bill contained over 50 tax provisions that expired at the end of 2013, including deductions or credits for increasing research expenditures, charitable contributions of food, and investment in empowerment zones. The author of the originally bipartisan bill, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), is reportedly working on changes so that he can bring it up again with more support.