Renewables extension fails in Senate transportation vote

Tax breaks for various renewable energy programs failed to get enough support in the U.S. Senate to be included in a transportation bill that is wending its way through the chamber.

A 49-49 vote Tuesday, March 13, came on the proposal by Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), meaning it didn’t even get majority support. Under previously agreed to rules, the amendment needed 60 votes to be included in the final legislation.

The amendment would have extended production tax credit (PTC) for one year, until the end of 2013, as well as extend the 1603 investment tax credit, the 48(C) manufacturing tax credit, in addition to including biodiesel and other provisions.

American Wind Energy Association CEO Denise Bode said the vote endangers manufacturing jobs at a critical time for the industry.

“In a divided Washington, support for American wind power has been one of the few things both sides can agree on. An extension of the PTC enjoys the bipartisan support of 79 co-sponsors, including 18 Republicans, as well as such groups as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Manufacturers, Edison Electric Institute and American Farm Bureau Federation. The broad base of support for wind energy positions us well to get the PTC extended at the next possible opportunity. We will continue to fight to find any opportunity for an extension as soon as possible.”

Renewable energy lobbyists have been looking for ways to extend the credits beyond 2012 once an attempt to attach the measure to the payroll tax extension in February failed. The transportation bill was seen as the next best opportunity.

As the legislative session drags on, and election season draws nearer, those opportunities will diminish. The extension could come up in the lame duck session after the election, but that would be too late to benefit project developers and manufacturers who want an uninterrupted project pipeline that extends into early 2013.

 A proposed amendment to strike almost all energy tax breaks fared even worse. The proposed amendment by Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) got only 26 votes in support, with 72 opposed.