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The U.S. Senate Finance Committee passed a $205 billion tax extender package as part of the Family and Business Tax Cut Certainty Act of 2012 that includes a one-year extension of the wind energy production tax credit (PTC) and the investment tax credit (ITC).

The Family and Business Tax Cut Certainty Act of 2012 is bipartisan legislation extending dozens of tax-cuts known as “extenders” that have expired or are scheduled to expire at the end of this year. The bill gives certainty to and critical support for working families and businesses across the country and prevents middle-class families from being hit by the alternative minimum tax (AMT) for two years.

The tax extenders legislation includes tax cuts for small businesses, working families, research and development and renewable energy. The proposal also includes a key provision to patch the AMT. The two-year patch will prevent the AMT from hitting 27 million middle-class taxpayers in the 2012 tax year alone.

Notably, the PTC and ITC provisions are for wind projects started in 2013.

An earlier version of the Senate bill did not include a measure for the PTC. Republicans had reportedly withdrawn the wind energy PTC as a show of loyalty to presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who came out against the incentive.

Introducing amendments in support of the wind PTC were Sens. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., John F. Kerry, D-Mass., Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., Bill Nelson, D-Fla., Benjamin Cardin, D-Md., and Kent Conrad, D-N.D.

The tax package passed the committee, 19-5, with the most conservative members voting against it. The extenders package measure is likely to be a top priority when the Senate returns in September.

Although some are withholding judgment as to the bill's prospects - it still needs to pass the House - the news was welcomed by industry advocates.

“Today’s vote is a critical step toward the establishment of a sustainable and robust offshore wind industry," says Jim Lanard, president of the Offshore Wind Development Coalition.

"The offshore wind industry has the potential to create tens of thousands of jobs, invest billions of dollars in new, domestic renewable energy production and help support efforts to reduce carbon emissions and sea level rise," Lanard continues. "Congressional support for the investment tax credit for offshore wind sends the appropriate signal to investors who need the certainty that the Senate committee’s action would provide. With this certainty, we can now expect offshore wind developers to continue work with their investment partners so that funds can be available when they are needed."

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