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Wind energy tax credit extension means "big sigh of relief"

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With several tax credits and incentives for the wind industry extended by Congress for at least another year, wind projects in upstate New York can move forward with a little more confidence.

As part of the "fiscal cliff" deal at the turn of the year, production tax credits (PTCs) and other incentives for the wind energy were given another year of life. There was concern that would not happen and the wind industry would be forced to shed jobs and slow its growth.

"I, and certainly my teammates, have breathed a big sigh of relief that it’s in place; and that we know what it is and that we can use it," says Marguerite Wells, the project manager for Black Oak Wind Farm, a community-owned wind farm in the works in Tompkins County.

One big change in the language of the extension is that projects will only need to begin construction this year in order to qualify for the credit. Before, the projects needed to be fully operational before getting the credits. Since wind project often take about 18 months to install, that eliminated a big question mark about the proposed extension for the wind industry.

As a community-owned project, Wells says they are more likely to take advantage of lesser-known incentives available for investors in wind farms, rather than the Production Tax Credits.

Still, she says only a one year extension is not a perfect solution.

"It’s a lukewarm solution, but at least it’s lukewarm and not ice cold," Wells says.

The Black Oak project will break ground in Enfield later this year, says Wells, and start producing enough electricity for a few thousand homes in 2014.

WRVO/Central New York reporter for the Innovation Trail
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