A renewable energy tax credit, known as PTC, has helped propel wind-turbine installations this year to a capacity of 6,519 megawatts as of November 30, says Bloomberg. Experts say the surge of wind-farm connections late in the year could double wind capacity, and outpace both 2012 gas and coal additions.
Wind turbine companies have benefited from the building boom. For instance, General Electric Co., the largest supplier of wind turbines to the U.S., has profited from a surge in orders, according to CEO, Jeffrey Immelt.
The PTC is set to expire on December 31. It pays wind farm owners 2.2 cents per kilowatt-hour of power they produce over 10 years. To qualify, the projects must be online and producing power by January 1.
The Senate Finance Committee approved a bill that would extend the PTC in August. But Congress has yet to act on it. Without government approval of the bill, some experts predict wind turbine installations could fall by 88 percent next year.
However, since 29 states require utilities to increase the amount of renewable resources, including wind farms, invest may continue tax credit or not. An increase in gas prices could also make wind desirable and more competitive. Gas futures have risen almost 15 percent this year.
Not all utilities are in favor of the PTC. Joseph Dominguez, a senior vice president of Exelon Corp. (EXC), the largest owner of U.S. nuclear power plants, feels the wind industry is self-sustaining and no longer needs subsidies.
The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) has attempted to address opposition by prosing a slow phase of via a six-year extension of the credit. The Washington-based industry group says 37,000 jobs will be lost if the credit is allowed to lapse.
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