Wind Power Industry Idles, Waiting for Energy Bill

After a three-year growth spurt that created more wind-energy capacity in the U.S. than came online in the two prior decades, the wind industry finds itself in an unwelcome state of suspension. Some $2 billion in economic development is on hold and thousands of jobs are being lost, says the American Wind Energy Association. Why the pregnant pause? The wind industry is immature and still relies heavily on a federal tax credit, and that credit has been lumped in with the energy bill that was stymied in Congress in December and may or may not be taken up again later this month. The credit was originally passed in 1992; it has lapsed and been renewed several times since then, each time causing the industry headaches. Even investments that would be profitable absent the credit are on hold, since the prospect of higher profits is constantly on the horizon. Industry groups and some members of Congress are calling for a 10-year extension that would enable long-term planning.