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Fiscal Cliff Deal Includes a Reprieve for Wind Production Tax Credit

PHOTO - Pheasant hunting near Haxtun, CO; a wind farm is in the background. Courtesy Lew Carpenter, National Wildlife Federation.

PHOTO - Pheasant hunting near Haxtun, CO; a wind farm is in the background. Courtesy Lew Carpenter, National Wildlife Federation.


January 3, 2013

DENVER - Among the provisions of this week's cngressional agreement to avoid the "fiscal cliff" is a little-talked-about measure that helps give some financial security to an industry employing more than 5,000 Coloradans.

The fiscal-cliff deal includes an extension of the Wind Production Tax Credit for one year.

The extension includes an important expansion, says David Ellenberger, regional outreach coordinator for the National Wildlife Federation. Energy companies before needed to be producing power to get the credit, but now can get it just by having begun construction.

"Wind farms take a lot of engineering and advance work before they can actually start producing energy, and a lot of investment. That actually makes this more than just a one-year deal."

Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., was a major supporter of the credit. In a statement, he said wind energy provides 60,000 jobs nationwide and is an important facet of an "all of the above" energy policy. Late last year, wind energy producer Vestas laid off 500 people due to uncertainty about the continuance of the wind production tax credit.

The fossil fuel industry also receives tax credits, Ellenberger says, but adds that clean-energy investment offers the United States a chance to be part of the industry's cutting edge.

"They're actually throwing some support behind an industry that not only benefits the environment and wildlife and consumers, but also is just a good thing to get behind. It's really the future."

Critics of the credit say it's too expensive and note that wind farms require other sources of energy, such as coal-fired power plants, as a backup.

Kathleen Ryan, Public News Service - CO