Wind, solar energy built on temporary tax breaks


WASHINGTON (AP) – Congress is putting the short-term future of renewable energy companies in jeopardy even as the presidential candidates and most lawmakers hail windmills, solar panels and biofuels as long-term solutions to high gasoline prices and global warming.

Some $500 million in investment and production tax credits will expire Dec. 31 unless Congress renews them. Without that help, solar and wind power companies say they will reverse planned expansions and, in many cases, cut payrolls and capital investment.

Schott Solar has visions of quadrupling its operation in Albuquerque, N.M., to reach 1,500 jobs and $500 million in investment. But the investment tax credit, company spokesman Brian Lynch said, is what makes solar power cost-competitive. Without it, expansion plans must be reconsidered.

“We don’t want to build a giant factory that the market doesn’t need or want,” Lynch said.

The Solar Energy Industries Association says some 20 utility-scale solar power plants, many in California and together capable of producing power for a million homes, are at risk because of the uncertainty in Congress.

Proponents of wind power, a nascent industry that relies on skittish investors, are in a similar predicament. Greg Wetstone of the American Wind Energy Association says his group is predicting a loss of 76,000 jobs and $11.4 billion in investment if Congress allows its production tax credit to expire.

Full Story at Wind Watch News

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