Year-End Panic Time: Congress Needs to Move on Energy Bills

Congress has a habit of waiting until the last minute each year to address some energy measures, and this year is no exception. On December 31, a tax incentive for commercial buildings will expire, as will two wind industry tax credits.

Following are the tax rules in question, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council:

*Deduction for Commercial Buildings (179D): Under 179D, private building owners or public building designers who cut energy use by 50 percent compared to the 2001 building code may take a tax deduction of up to $1.80 per square foot when the reduction is accomplished through changes in the lighting, heating, cooling, and ventilation systems, or the building envelope.

*Production Tax Credit (PTC): Under the PTC, utility-scale wind farms can get a 2.2 cent per kilowatt-hour tax credit for the power they produce during the first 10 years of operation. Via the PTC, the wind industry now generates enough electricity to power 15 million homes and providing as much as 20 percent of all electricity in some states.

*Investment Tax Credit (ITC): The unique challenges of the offshore wind energy require a different form of financial incentive than onshore wind. In January 2013, Congress extended the ITC for offshore wind projects that begin construction before January 1, 2014. No US offshore wind developers have been able to apply for ITC yet because they are not yet in the construction phase, but several offshore wind projects are advancing and poised for construction in 2014.

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