The committee, chaired by Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, has yet to release the base bill yet, but sources indicate the mark-up version could come out as early as July 21. It is unclear if the tax extenders package includes the wind energy production tax credit (PTC) or the investment tax credit (ITC) for solar, which expires at the end of 2016.
Therefore, wind advocates are urging Hatch to include the PTC in extenders. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and author of the first-ever wind energy PTC in 1992, was among those fighting for inclusion of the PTC.
Grassley's backing gives supporters credence that the PTC will be included in an extenders package. However, the same cannot be said of solar, as the ITC will not expire for several months.
‘I'm not sure if solar ITC will be included as it does not expire until the end of 2016,’ says Curt Beaulieu, senior counsel of Bracewell Giuliani's Policy Resolution Group. ‘My guess is they won't include it in order to keep the costs down. I think with Grassley's and others' support for the wind PTC, it will be included in some form but probably not in its current value and/or form.’
If tax incentives for renewables are included, how long will they be extended? One year or two years? Would the wind PTC, for example, feature a phaseout, as was the earlier talk?
‘There is a conservative strength pulling to have the wind PTC phased out,’ Beaulieu explains. ‘One option is to extend for two years but to switch the 'commence construction' back to a 'placed in service' requirement.’
Working on a parallel track, the House Ways and Means Committee is also working on a tax extenders package – although it is generally thought the committee, chaired by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., is more concerned with tax reform, in general.
Both the Senate and House packages are expected to be reconciled this fall in a stand-alone bill or as part of larger legislation, such as the so-called highway bill, a package that would fund the building of new roads and bridges.
For its part, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) is hoping for a long-term extension of the PTC.
‘We are optimistic Congress will see the value of extending the renewable energy tax credits by the end of the year,’ says Rob Gramlich, AWEA's senior vice president of government and public affairs.