Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Crucial tax credit bill introduced for offshore wind

[UPDATE: Related story added on 7/31/2011 - See below]

Senators from Delaware and New Jersey are among the sponsors of legislation introduced last week  to extend tax credits for companies working to build wind energy farms off the nation's northeast coast.

Senator Tom Carper, D-Delaware joined with Olympia Snowe, R-Maine on Thursday in introducing the Incentivizing Offshore Wind Power Act which would extend existing tax credits that are due to expire at the end of 2011.

The bill offers a 30 percent tax credit to companies that successfully produce offshore wind-generated electricity, up to the first 3,000 megawatts. The’s roughly equivalent to 600 wind turbines, according to Carper.

Co-sponsors include Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Susan Collins (R-ME), Chris Coons (D-DE), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Jack Reed (D-RI).

Wind energy advocates say that the bill incentivizes investment in offshore wind projects, while prioritizing those projects that are furthest along in the development process. By doing so, it creates tax certainty for the first movers in the budding domestic offshore wind industry. 

Although offshore wind is well established in Europe, the industry has struggled to gain federal financial assistance and environmental permits in the U.S. Despite those challenges, developers continue to pursue federal and state approvals for projects in coastal water off  Delaware, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island.

Peter Mandelstam, president of NRG Bluewater Wind, which is planning a wind farm off the Delaware coast,  called the Carper-Snowe bill "exactly the kind of bold and visionary legislation that is required to get the offshore wind industry moving again."

Mandelstam said the legislation "gives a clear signal to developers and their supply chain partners that these projects have long-term policy support, rather than short-term incentives."

Related story: The week in Green Energy: Ill Winds Blow Offshore


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