by Amelia Templeton
A last minute deal passed by Congress to avoid the fiscal cliff extended a key tax credit for the wind power industry. The tax credit has helped turn wind energy into a more than $10 billion industry in the Northwest. It expired on the 31.
Wind farms cash in on the credit based on how much power they produce. They receive 2.2 cents for every kilowatt-hour of wind energy they put on the grid.
The new production tax credit will only apply to wind farms that begin construction this year.
Rachel Shimshak directs the Renewable Energy Northwest Project, an advocacy group. She says it's not the first time the credit has come and gone.
"Over time the production tax credit has kind of been an on-again, off-again public policy. It's a lot better to have policies that are long term in nature so that people can plan."
Congress also extended a tax credit for companies that produce biodiesel and fuels from wood, grass and even algae.
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