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Wind energy tax credits avoid falling off the fiscal cliff

At the eleventh hour, U.S. lawmakers approved legislation that allowed our nation to avoid plummeting over the fiscal cliff, effectively saving the wind energy tax credits that were in peril – at least for now.

The tax credits, which can cover 2.2 cents per kilowatt-hour generated in the first year of a wind project, or 30 percent of the construction cost, were extended for one year under the terms of the deal struck in Washington, D.C. The bill passed through the Democrat-controlled Senate by an 89-8 margin, followed by a 257-167 vote in favor of the legislation in the Republican-controlled House.

"On behalf of all the people working in wind energy manufacturing facilities, their families, and all the communities that benefit, we thank President Obama and all the members of the House and Senate who had the foresight to extend this successful policy, so wind projects can continue to be developed in 2013 and 2014," Denise Bode, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association, said in a press statement.

The extended tax credit will apply to wind energy projects started this calendar year. While the issue will be brought up again, as this is only a one-year extension, it remains unclear how much of an immediate effect it will have on hiring at manufacturing companies throughout the industry.

The Denver Business Journal notes that hundreds of wind industry workers throughout Colorado were laid off in recent months in anticipation of Congress letting the credits expire. The next 12 months will be critical for the sector's future, as we look to develop new and innovative alternative energy technologies, including metal soldering techniques that will help reduce the overall construction cost of wind energy projects in order to make them more competitive with coal and fossil fuel plants.

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