Big Greenie loss in the U.S. Senate: Subsidies for windmills and biofuels to expire

The US Senate voted not to adopt an amendment to a highway transportation bill that would have extended the wind production tax credit (PTC) for one year until 31 December 2013 and revived the Section 1603 Treasury cash grant programme for renewable energy projects.

The 49-49 vote on the amendment introduced by Senator Debbi Stabenow, a Michigan Democrat, was short of 60 needed for approval. Forty-seven Democrats were joined by two independents in voting for the measure, while 45 Republicans were joined by four Democrats in opposing it. Two Republican senators did not vote.

It was the latest setback for the wind industry, which has been lobbying Congress for a four-year extension of the PTC instead of an additional 12 months. The 1603 cash grant program, which expired last year, offered renewable energy developers a direct cash payment of up to 30% for power projects in lieu of the federal investment tax credit.

Denise Bode, president of the American Wind Energy Association, says the industry is disappointed that tens of thousands of American jobs are being put in peril by partisan gridlock in Washington.

Critics of the PTC in the Senate argue that in an era of runaway deficits, the federal government can't afford to keep pouring billions of dollars in subsidies to sustain an industry that generates 3% of US electricity.


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